How Has the Pest Control Industry Evolved Throughout History?

Throughout human history, pests have been a nuisance, but how we handle that nuisance has changed greatly over time. Let’s take a look at how pest control originated and how it has evolved into the industry it is today.

Pest Management in Ancient Times

The pest control industry dates back to the beginnings of the agricultural industry, as humans have always needed to keep undesirable insects and animals away from human food supplies.

Around 2,500 B.C., ancient Sumerians used compounds of sulfur to control insects, and ancient Egyptians and Chinese farmers used oils and herbs for this purpose. Through research and trial and error, civilizations experimented with using citrus, tobacco infusions, soap, chlorinated hydrocarbons, organophosphates and other substances as pesticides.

Rat Catchers and the Plague of Europe

The need for pest management became very evident during the Black Plague in Europe during the 14th century. This is a time when nearly one-third of the continent’s population died under mysterious circumstances, later determined to be due to a bacterial disease that was spread by fleas that fed off of diseased rats. If only rodents and fleas were controlled during that time, many people would not have lost their lives to what we now refer to as bubonic plague.

To curb the risk of spreading the disease and preventing damage to food supplies, a new profession emerged: the rat catcher. Dangerously, rat catchers often trapped rats by hand. Perhaps you recall the folklore story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a legendary rat catcher who lured rats away from town with a magic pipe and later retaliated against the townspeople by luring away their children in the same way when they refused payment. These days, rats and mice can still pose health risks, so if you notice a rat problem, contact a licensed rat control professional.

Ireland’s Potato Crop Infestation

Another pest-related catastrophe in history was the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1847. Ireland’s potato crops were destroyed by pests due to a plant disease known as late blight. Around a million Europeans starved to death because the potato crops were eliminated, which led to a mass migration of immigrants to the United States.

Modern Pest Control Businesses

Today’s pest control companies in New Jersey play an important role in keeping our homes safe and protecting human health. No longer is pest control guided by magic or trial and error; it is rooted in science and carefully regulate to protect the environment and everyone who lives in it. We have now entered an era of integrated pest management, which combines traditional pesticide use with eco-friendly approaches to ensure that devastating diseases and famines like those our history books never happen again.