Integrated pest management (IPM) is a valuable tool for reducing pesticide use and for pesticide resistance management. Despite the success of IPM over the last 50 yr, significant challenges remain to improving IPM delivery and adoption. We believe that insights can be obtained from the field of Social Ecological Systems (SES). We first describe the complexity of crop pest management and how various social actors influence grower decision making, including adoption of IPM. Second, we discuss how crop pest management fits the definition of an SES, including such factors as scale, dynamic complexities, critical resources, and important social–ecological interactions. Third, we describe heuristics and simulation models as tools to understand complex SES and develop new strategies. Finally, we conclude with a brief discussion of how social processes and SES techniques could improve crop pest management in the future, including the delivery of IPM, while reducing negative social and environmental impacts.