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Tufts OpenCourseware
Authors: Kathleen Merrigan, Ph.D., William Lockeretz, Ph.D.


  • Metcalf, R.L. Insecticides in pest management. In: Metcalf, R.L., and Luckmann, W.H. (eds.) Introduction to Insect Pest Management, 3rd ed. 1995.
  • National Research Council. The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture. Chapter 2 (part). 2000.

Key Questions

Insecticides in Pest Management

  • What has been the general trend of insecticide production and usage (considering their quantity and efficacy) over time in the US?
  • What are the major crop groups with high insecticide usage?
  • What are the advantages of using insecticides in agriculture?
  • How does decisionmaking using ETL levels of insecticides vary when the prices of the crop and insecticides are also considered?
  • What are the disadvantages of injudicious use of insecticides?
  • What is the difference between multiple and cross resistance? Which type of resistance is of greater concern?
  • What are the different kinds of resistance developed by insects?
  • What are some of the reasons for development of insecticidal resistance?
  • What are some of the principles of Integrated Resistance Management?
  • What are the reasons for pest resurgence?
  • How does one manage the problem of pest resurgence?
  • Why do decreases in the populations of non-target species because of pesticide sprays increase crop damage due to pests?
  • Why are honey bees especially susceptible to insecticidal applications?
  • What are the management practices that minimize the adverse effect of insecticides on wildlife?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of pesticide persistence?
  • Which category of pesticides has been most threatening to human health?
  • What are the management practices that minimize the adverse effect of insecticides on human health?
  • What are the major principles governing pesticide use in IPM programs?
  • What is biorational strategy for pest management? What type of chemicals are used in this?
  • Why is broadcasting of dusts and sprays inefficient?
  • Would the authors support - Routine application of pesticides for pest management? - The idea that 100 % pest control is possible?
  • Should the farmer always go by the dosages prescribed on pesticide labels for pest control?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of seed treatment with pesticides?
  • What criteria are considered for deriving pesticide management ratings for insecticides?
  • What three animals are considered for determining the toxic effects of pesticides on the environment?
  • What is the significance of pesticide management ratings?
  • What are the different kinds of pest control we find in the case study on IPM in alfalfa?

The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture

  • What are some of the outcomes that have been estimated from a ‘no pesticide’ scenario in the US?
  • According to some of the researchers, how do consumers benefit from pesticide usage in agriculture?
  • How does the committee account for the costs and benefits of using pesticides in households?
  • Which crop categories account for maximum application of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides in the US?
  • Which is the most pesticide intensive-crop in the US?
  • After increasing between the years 1940 and 1980, pesticide usage in the US decreased until 1990, and then increased again. What are the reasons?
  • Why is it difficult to measure pesticide-related productivity?
  • Provide examples of short-term and long-term farm and regional level substitute for pesticides.
  • How does availability of substitutes affect pesticide productivity?
  • What are the different methods for estimation of pesticide productivity and their main features?
  • How does customer preference lead to increase/decrease of pesticide application?
  • What are the reasons for application of preventive pesticide sprays by the farmers?
  • What is the relationship between pesticide application and income related risks to the farmers?
  • Why do the authors state that development of resistance to pesticides in pests is more of a rule than an exception?
  • Are chemical pesticides the only reason for resistance development in pests?
  • Why is resistance development to herbicides slower compared to other pesticides?
  • For which group of pesticides is the development of resistance the highest? Why?
  • How does the duration of pest life cycle influence resistance development?
  • How do dispersal and migration of susceptible individuals of a pest species influence resistance development?
  • At what stage of pesticide manufacture and use is the risk of exposure the greatest to human beings?
  • Which Federal Act protects workers from occupational risks due to exposure to pesticides?
  • What are some of the general guidelines of Worker Protection Standards (WPS)?
  • What are the reasons for declining levels of pesticide residues on food items?