A Brief History of Pest Control

A Brief History of Pest Control

Pest control is something that is used all over the world, making it a multinational, million dollar business. Interestingly, however, most pest control companies are one man or family owned businesses and not huge conglomerations. The world of pest control is complicated, not in the least because certain pests can be destructive to certain crops or products, while also being vital to the survival of other crops and products. The history of pest control is actually very interesting.

The Earliest History of Pest Control

If you are looking for the best pest control NYC has to offer, you may be interesting to know that you are actually looking for a business inspired by the ancient Sumerians. In 2500BC, they first started to use Sulphur to keep insects at bay. Around 1200BC, the great Chinese age of discovery took place. Under the Shang Dynasty, the Chinese were developing increasingly sophisticated methods of pest control. Their methods remained unchanged until around 750BC, Homer described how he used ash on his Greek lands to control pests.

Through history, body lice have been major pests. It is known that the Chinese used arsenic and mercury to fight them. The Ancient Egyptians started to cover their beds with fishing nets in order to protect them from mosquitoes around 440BS.


300BC Onwards

We know that from 300BC, the use of pest control become more widespread, although it isn’t known when the development of these methods started exactly. The Romans used various methods and these methods spread all over their empire. Cato, the Roman emperor around 200BC told his subjects to use oils to remove pests. This remained practice until 70AD, when Pliny the Elder said that mixing galbanum resin and Sulphur kept mosquitoes at bay. Finally, in 13BC, the very first rat proof grain store in recorded history was built, again by the Romans.

crop sprayer

Transporting Insects

An element of pest control is also the transportation of predatory insects. We know that, around 1000AD, date growers brought ants out of the mountains to their oasis, which would help to fight the phytophagous ants that attacked the palms.

Interestingly, the enlightened knowledge of the Sumerians, Chinese, Greek, Romans or Arabs, their teachings on pest control were mostly lost. Throughout Europe, pest control was based on superstition and a belief that pests were a punishment from god. This actually didn’t change until the Renaissance, under Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish taxonomist and botanist who started to catalog pests in 1758. In these days, the agricultural revolution also started, which meant demand for pest control was on the increase.

Pest control continued to be an every man for himself business, until 1921, when the first crop sprayer was employed. By 1962, the Insect-O-Cutor was available, and the world of pest control had truly changed. However, to this day, most pest control work continues to be done by individual people or small businesses, often without ever considering the long and fascinating history that lies behind their every action.

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