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Modern Methods of Pest and Disease Conytol in the US

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sciences
Wordcount: 2512 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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Pest and disease management have gradually been innovated over years due to the increase of the technology innovation and transfer of knowledge. The traditional pest management methods had to constantly change with the introduction of new insects or disease. Since the 1940s, pesticides became prevalent are still being used in the modern time. However, the pesticides have affected the environment and human health. Thus, an increasing number of farmers are turning into an effective pest control which helps reduce or eliminate the need of pesticide and the method is “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM). IPM incorporates all the methods available for pest control and uses techniques that consider both short term and long term effects. In this paper, I will analyze the history of pest management, how it kept changing throughout the history and how IPM integrates all the traditional pest control techniques to suppress pests and diseases.

History of pest and disease management

Inorganic mineral-based pesticides

Pesticides has been around almost for the all of human history. The pesticides used before WWII were inorganic mineral-based materials such as sulfur, lead, copper, arsenic, and mercury. The first recorded use of insecticide was about 4,500 years ago by Sumerian who used sulfur compounds with an unpleasant smell to control insects and mites. They would also rub it to the skin as a protection against insects. During that time, the chinese were using using mercury and arsenic compounds to control body lice (1).

When the first settlers arrived in America, they relied on the natives to grow food because the settlers only wanted to grow tobacco to generate money. Therefore, nicotine sulfate was extracted from tobacco leaves for use as an insecticide. It’s a natural insecticide that protects plants against insects.

(2) In 1800s in Massachusetts, Silk was valuable and a great number of entrepreneurial individuals had a keen interest in developings the industry in the North America. One of the skilled entomologist, from France, Etienne L. Trouvelot decided to import Gypsy moth  candidates from his colleague in France so they could produce more silk faster. Unluckily, a few larvae escaped in 1869 and no immediate action was taken. Thus, making gypsy moth the first invader to North America. The lack of early intervention, increased the pest’s aggressiveness. Lead arsenate was then introduced in 1890s to control the invasive pest. This was the first time the United States had to manage an invasive and landscape pest (3). The first are-wide eradication of insect pest called “mediterranean fruit fly” in Florida in 1929. Around 1930, a guy named Muller who was Suiss discovered DTT although it was synthesized in 1874 by a master’s student in Germany in 1874. Muller, when he discovered it was during the WWII, since he was an anti-Nazi, he gave the chemical to the US instead of the Germans. DDT was persistent so it didn’t have to be reapplied often, it was insoluble in water so it didn’t get washed off by rains. In addition, it was inexpensive and easy to re-apply.  

During WWII, it was used to control typhus- nearly eliminating the disease in many parts of Europe. They were able to keep all the people in the fight because they controlled malaria by spraying all the water body. They started applying much more and some were given to civilians. Muller won a Nobel prize for the discovery in 1948.


The first hormone-based herbicide ( 2, 4-D) was made in 1944. In 1950-70s, widespread development of resistance to DDT and other pesticides were discovered. In late 1950s, DDT residues were found in milk, insect developed resistance and beneficials were being killed due to the pesticide appliance. The biggest problems was indirect toxicity through bioconcentration where DDT accumulates in an organism’s tissue (especially, fatty tissues) and biomagnification where DDT increases in concentration up the food chain. DDT was also found in human’s breast milk and its concentration was high to the point where the milk would be banned if it was cow’s milk. In 1962, the author Rachel Carson’s published a book called silent spring. This book changed people’s minds on how chemical were affecting them. Unfortunately, there was not enough science to confirm what she was indicating in the book. Nevertheless, DDT was later banned in the US in the 1972.


Fumigation is a defined as a pest control method in which a pesticide gas or vapor is released into the air or injected into the soil to kill or eliminate pests. The soil fumigation is a commonly used to treat fields to reduce weed, nematodes and other soil insects and small rodents such as moles. Carbon bisulfide which discovered in 1869, is the first fumigant pesticide used for agriculture use, however it wasn’t used due to its high flammability, costs and it’s pest control inconsistency. By the 1930s, 17 chemicals were available for the farmers to use to control nematodes, tiny soil-borne roundworms that harm crops. Some of the chemicals included; chloropicrin, D-D, Ethylene dibromide, DBCB (1,2-dibromo-3-chloropentane) etc,. Unfortunately, most of these chemicals were found to be toxic to humans and the environment and were later banned. These chemicals were effective at decreasing and controlling the nematodes which were starting to become economic problems in recropped fields. After 1965, preplant soil fumigation with  methyl bromide and chloropicrin was adopted here in the US and all around the world. Methyl bromide is one of the best chemicals because not only it takes care of the nematode but it also kills diseases and weeds. However, methyl bromide can be volatile and can easily escape in the atmosphere when released in the soil.

The graph below shows how pest resistance drastically increased throughout the years. This in return, increased the number of pesticides that were being applied in the fields.

Plant breeding for  disease resistance

The first successful breeding program for insect pest resistance in crop plants which happened in 1942.

In 1960, the first Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) product was registered . BT was introduced to fight off pests that were becoming resistant especially to glyphosate. When glyphosate was being sprayed in the field, there was always this one weed that wasn’t being affected which then required excessive appliance of the chemicals to kill off all the plants. Unfortunately, when the same methods keep being used, it enables the weed seeds to thrive. Thus, It’s never good to use the same control method year by year.


Biology control is the use of living organisms to reduce populations of noxious plant pests. It’s whole discipline in a plant protection aimed at the reduction of chemicals.  

Naturally occurring enemy attacking insects bacteria fungi and viruses which potentially cause damage in plants this results in a natural balance. These natural enemies exist in all kinds of forms the natural enemies of pest insects can be predators parasitoids, or pathogens. The natural enemies of pathogens are antagonistic bacteria, fungi and viruses which suppress the growth and activity of the plant pathogen. Cropping systems often lack sufficient enemies leading to crop damage, fortunately we’re able to develop biological control products from the naturally occuring enemy after collecting, selecting and multiplying the best-performing enemies present in their natural environment we’re able to develop them into biological control for us. Farmers and foresters can buy and apply these products to protect their crops in an environmentally sustainable way. The range of biological control products remains limited today are just three point five percent of the total global crop protection market, yet the market to these products is growing by 15% every year. The EU project biochem is currently developing a brand new biological product to control pests and diseases in agriculture horticulture and forestry alongside new technologies for the production of beneficial viruses and nematodes against pests.

The world’s earliest example of insect control of insect is when chinese farmers used Huang gan (huang which means yellow and gan; Citrus) ants to prevent citrus fruit tree damage against caterpillars and wood pests. Pests are found in every crop and one way to eliminate them is understanding how they evolve and what their natural enemies are.

The first example is the control of aphids. Aphids live for three weeks at the most within that period , they can give birth to a couple of hundred young aphids as these young aphids also immediately set to work they can quickly become a pest that can cause much damage so when there are too many harmful creatures, it means they are a pest. Damage can be caused because they feed on plants and leave wat or eat into the leaves. The plant will become weak and ill and will produce less or lower quality fruit flowers or ornamental plants will become unfit for sale. What can be done against pests? Koppert (a company) produces natural enemies of pests enemies. Enemies as they are also found in nature. If these natural enemies are distributed in the crop, they will render the pest harmless. In this case, the parasitic wasp. A phidias  column, is used the so-called mummies of this parasite wasp are mixed with dosage material and then distributed like the aphid, the parasitic wasp measure only two millimeters. After the parasitic wasp has emerged from the mummy it will search for the pest in this case the aphid in order to reproduce. Within half a second she deposits an egg inside the aphid and that’s called parasitism. IN the course of a few days the aphid will swell because of the growing parasitic wasp larvae inside its body and will then change into a mummy. After about two weeks, the fully grown parasitic wasp will make a hole from inside through which it leaves the mummy. If the wasp is a female, she will look for a male to mate with. Immediately after this, she will start searching aphids to deposit her eggs in. In this way, the number of aphids will decrease and the biological balance will be reached. The second example, is the examples of spider mite. This harmful mite feeds on the plants SAP and in doing so, it damages the plant tissue causing the plants to lose leaf green and sometimes to even die. The spider mite eis a tiny insect that can lay over a hundred eggs from which new spider mites develop after a little over a week but “koppert” has found a natural enemy for this pest– a predatory mite to control spider mite. A predatory mite is a real predator because it kills its prey by eating it or by pricking it and sucking it empty. The development of the predatory mite is similar to that of the two spotted spider mite like many beneficials, the predatory mite can only live when its prey is present.

Integrated pest management
Integrated Pest Management is defined as a process where the selection, integration, and implementation of pest control (biological, chemical or cultural) is based on predicted economic, ecological, and sociological consequences.

The demand of produce grown without pesticides is on the rise. Along with this new demand, farmers are finding out that total reliance on pesticides may cause problems such as pesticide resistance, pest fare black, and groundwater contamination.

Over the years, we discovered serious drawbacks to chemical pest control. Many kinds of insects developed resistance to pesticides and croplands weeds learned to tolerate herbicides. Newer more expensive products were required to cope with the resistance. Many pest control products contaminated the environment and caused unintended damage to wildlife. The agricultural community was compelled to develop broad–based ecologically sound pest-fighting strategies. From their efforts emerged a series of practices we now call integrated pest management. Integrated pest management is an approach to controlling that takes advantage the broad variety of management practices that are available to farmers. The strategies used in IPM can save you money because they offer alternatives to expensive pesticides and herbicides. Integrated pest management is built on four main principles, often known as the PAMS approach; prevention, avoidance, monitoring, and suppression.


It’s usually easier to prevent pests and diseases from developing than to control them after they appear. Make it a goal to interrupt any pathways that enable pest to reach your fields. Prevention is your first line of defense. Pest move from field to field through equipments. Thus, cleaning equipments before moving it from one field to another because weed seeds travel around at a fast rate.


If a pest population already exists in your fields, use the avoidance approach to prevent the pest from impacting your crop and reaching economically damaging levels. The avoidance approach typically involves a number of cultural practices. For example, crop rotation can help break insect and plant disease cycle by depriving organisms of a suitable host.


Monitoring which involves scouting help with early detection of pests. The main goal of monitoring is to locate, identify the type of pests in the fields and the severity of the pest infestations. If done regularly, it can help reduce or prevent a pest outbreak.


If avoidance techniques fail in the field, suppression then comes into play in order to avoid economic loss. Suppressive techniques involve mowing, cultivation, narrow row spacing, cover crops or mulches.


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