containing recognizable substances, that were used as poisons and pesticides. The Ebers Papyrus written by Egyptian alchemists in 1550 BC. In Greece, Homer described how Odysseus “fumigated the hall, house and court with burning sulfur to control pests” around 1000 BC. About the same time, the Chinese were using compounds made from mercury and arsenic to control body lice. The Chinese at this time had already been using predatory ants to protect citrus groves from caterpillars and wood boring beetles. They even used ropes or bamboo sticks tied between adjacent branches to help the ants move easily from place to place – perhaps the earliest form of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Man’s concern with disease is evident in the Old Testament (First Kings 8:37) that lists blights and mildews as among the great scourges of mankind.In approximately 300 B.C. Theophrastus, considered the father of modern botany, was the first to write about various pests damage. He reportedly killed young, undesirable trees by pouring olive oil on their roots. He also noted that certain weeds were associated with specific crops. Soon after, Cato, a Censor of the Roman state who lived from 234 BC to 149 BC, advocated the use of a spray made from the oils of the hellebore plant to kill rodents and insects.
3 During this time, the Romans became so distressed over grain crop losses due to rusts that they created a special rust god, Robigo, to which they sacrificed rust colored animals such as dogs and sheep each spring. Marcus Terentius Varro, known in his time as the most learned of all the Romans, is credited with discovering the first chemical weed killer in the first century B.C. He noted that amurca made from crushed olives was toxic to ants, moles, and weeds. He also spuriously noted that whenever amurca seeped from olive oil presses onto the ground, the ground became barren, although this was likely due to the addition of salt to the olives before they were pressed. In any case, Varro began recommending amurca application for all noxious weeds. Ancient olive press at Irtem, Morocco(by Mark Horrell). Amurca was the base ingredient for many pest remedies. It was usually boiled in copper vessels and often mixed with salt. Both copper and salt have pesticidal properties. Amurca was used to fight insects as well as weeds. Palladius wrote of mixing amurca and extracts of cucumber or lupins spiked with urine to repel caterpillars from cabbage. Romans used burning sulfur to control insects and applications of salt to control weeds. In 800 A.D., the Chinese used a mixture of arsenic and water to control insects in fields and citrus orchards. Pesticides have existed for centuries although progress in pest control had been minimal until more recent times. For example, there was very little progress in pest control during the dark ages, when ignorance and superstition thrived. With the Renaissance, however, people began to view pests less as a punishment from God and more as members of a natural world that could be studied, understood, and controlled. As a result, the Renaissance brought more accurate observations of the natural world.