History of Pest Management in Texas and the Southern United States and How Recent Grower Adoption of Preventative Pest Management Technologies Have Diminished the Capability for IPM Delivery Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015 Research Information Ltd. All rights reserved. The history of pest management since the late 1880s is a repeated cycle of pest intensification, development of innovative and effective technology, enthusiastic use/over use of the technology, followed in the short term by a return to pest intensification and sustainability issues due to grower failure to integrate control tactics (Allen 2014). The overland invasion of Texas by the boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) from Mexico about 1892 ushered in a long period of repeated cycles of pest intensification, technology development, use/overuse, and development of questions about the sustainability of the system for managing cotton pests in the American South. The period from its arrival to its eradication lasted about 100 years. During that time, pest management systems evolved, moving through several distinctive phases. Early on, farmers had very few tools with which to battle pests. Within a few years entomologists had developed ecologically-based systems based on cultural controls. With the discovery of broadspectrum synthetic organic insecticides cultural controls were largely abandoned as growers moved to large-scale reliance on insecticides. Within a decade, insecticide resistance, pest resurgence, and environmental, human health risks began to emerge. A few years later, public opinion and governmental regulations began to change pest management systems further. Integrated scouting and insecticide-based systems were developed, and extensive research programs led to the development of technology enabling the eradication of boll weevil and pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella), two major cotton pests. Newsom (1974) divided the history of cotton production into four periods; the pre-boll weevil era (before 1892), early boll weevil era (1892 to 1917), the calcium arsenate era (19171945) and the synthetic organic insecticide era 1945-forward. Perkins (1980) later divided the synthetic organic insecticide era into the era of euphoria and the crisis of residues (19451955), the era of confusion environmental crisis and the beginning of new directions (19541972), and era of changing paradigms (1968 and beyond). Since 1996, it has become clear that yet another era has begun. Cotton and other field crops have entered the era of genetically modified crops and preventative, area-wide pest management. The preventative and area-wide nature of management technologies has resulted in changes in the availability of people with training in field-specific pest management concepts. The de-emphasis of field-field specific IPM is occurring at a time when the need for food and fiber is higher than at any other time in history and is expected to increase significantly in the future. Intensified global trade has increased threats from invasive pests. And pests are once again demonstrating their capacity to adapt to and survive modern control technologies. Our vulnerability has increased because we are lacking sufficient numbers of specialists who can respond to pest outbreaks and breakthroughs. IPM expertise will take time to develop as fewer instructors have field experience in IPM and fewer students are being prepared to address pest management concerns. How will we respond to the challenges of protecting food and fiber to meet the needs.

published proceedings

  • Outlooks on Pest Management

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Allen, C.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Allen, Charles

publication date

  • January 2015