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Indiana Pesticide Education

Ancient Pesticides

You may think that today's methods of pest control are the most modern, but did you know that practically every method in use today has its origins dating back to B.C.?

According to a report of ancient Greek and Roman agrarian literature covering a period roughly 200 BC to 200 AD, protective seed coverings, olive oil, soda, smoke, ashes, leek juice, and salt were commonly used to control blight, mildew, and other common plant ailments.

Many substances were created from chemicals and minerals commonly found in plants, animals, trees and native soils.

Ancient agronomists used a variety of methods for pest control, including selectively placing plants such as bay, cedar fig, cumin and garlic in rows among their crops. Such plants were thought to kill or repel various insects.

Soaking seeds in leek juice was thought to prevent fungal diseases such as blight and mildew. The liquid distillation of extracts of lupine flowers and wild cucumber were commonly used as natural deterrents. Many insects commonly treated are similar to those we deal with today.

Such practices are quite similar to those in use by today’s organic gardeners and farmers wishing to avoid the use of synthetic chemicals.  Today's organic farmers often use seaweed to keep potato beetles at bay or plant a combination of onions, garlic, and herbs together to naturally prevent predators.

es: History of Pesticide Use; NY Times Archives

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