With the advent of integrated pest management and its success in the last third of the twentieth century, it has become difficult to separate agricultural entomology from IPM. In entomology, the two fields of endeavor are inextricably interconnected. A reliable database of biological information provides the means to design and develop IPM strategies. For example, there is growing interest in methods of enhancing biological control through habitat management. The technique requires information on source-sink relationships among pests and natural enemies across crop plants, neighboring crops, natural vegetation, and especially managed vegetation in the form of cover crops and field hedges. Theoretically, diversification of the crop ecosystem leads to an increase in natural enemies and to greater stability of the system. The complexity of interactions, however, makes it difficult to interpret conflicting results of experiments designed to test working hypotheses. The analysis of within-field and interfield movement, the host selection behavior of phytophagous and entomophagous insects, multitrophic interactions among community members, and the dynamics of populations, all under the scope of agricultural entomology, are only a few of the many components of the knowledge base necessary to develop advanced IPM systems.
The advent of the World Wide Web has had a major influence on accessibility to basic information on agricultural entomology. Most major agricultural research centers have developed Web pages that organize information and make it available to students worldwide. More importantly, the dynamic nature of the Web offers the opportunity to provide weather-driven modeling capabilities that greatly increase the scope and applicability of studies about the phenology and population dynamics of major pest organisms. Two sites that offer such capabilities are http://www.orst.edu/Dept/IPPC/ wea/ and http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PHENOLOGY/ models.html.
Entomologists in the late 1800s and early 1900s studied the biology of insect pests in great detail. Articles and monographs published during that period remain valuable sources of information. These early entomologists recognized that deep knowledge of the life history of an insect and its habits could provide insights useful for the control of agricultural and other pests. The advent of organosynthetic insecticides in the mid-1940s created the illusion that pest problems now could be solved forever. Many entomologists redirected their efforts to testing new chemicals and neglected basic insect biology studies. The failure of insecticides to eradicate pests and the environmental problems engendered by the misuse of these chemicals led to the advent of IPM. For IPM to succeed, entomologists have had to return to the basics and again refocus their efforts on the study of insect biology. Agricultural entomology has come full circle as new generations of entomologists endeavor to refine knowledge of the group of animals that remain humans' most serious competitors.
Biological Control • History of Entomology • Integrated Pest Management • Phytophagous Insects • Plant—Insect Interactions • Population Ecology
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