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The Importance of Proper Identification in Pest Control

Pests damage plants, crops and buildings. They can also transmit diseases such as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, leptospirosis and plague.

Pest control strategies include prevention – keeping pests from developing; suppression – reducing the number of pests to an acceptable level; and eradication – killing off an entire pest population. Contact Treasure Valley Pest Control now!

Whether an insect, disease, weed or vertebrate animal, correct pest identification is critical to the success of any pest control effort. Proper identification allows you to determine the need for control and select an appropriate integrated pest management (IPM) strategy. Identification also helps you determine the best methods to control the pest, including cultural practices, mechanical controls, physical barriers, and chemical applications.

Many pests leave characteristic damage to the host plant or have other distinguishing features that help you to identify them. You can also find information in printed or online pest identification guides that help you to identify the specific species. In addition, most pests have certain weak points or windows of opportunity when they are more vulnerable to being controlled. For example, insects may be easiest to control during the immature life stages or when they are newly emerged from eggs (annuals), or weeds may be easier to control when they are young and seedlings or in early vegetative growth phases (perennials).

If you have trouble identifying the pest that is infesting your garden, contact your county Extension office or a professional pest management company for assistance. They can provide information about the pest and its habitat requirements, time of occurrence, and other important characteristics.

A flashlight – Pests often live or seek shelter in dark, secluded areas where they are difficult to see. A flashlight with a telescoping handle can be especially helpful for inspection behind equipment and furniture where pests are often found. Magnifier – A magnifier is very useful for examining insect parts, frass (excrement) and other evidence of pest activity. It is also helpful in locating points of entry, sanitation deficiencies and maintenance problems.

A good, quality pest identification guide that includes photographs can be a valuable reference tool in your fight against pests. These guides can be found at most bookstores and garden centers and some come with a pocket-sized magnifying lens for quick, easy identification of pests. They also offer tips for control of common pests such as cockroaches, houseflies, cluster flies and ants.

Pest Prevention

Pests can bring health, safety and sanitation concerns into homes and businesses. They can also cause structural damage, destroy food and spoilage, trigger allergic reactions and sensitivities, and carry and spread disease organisms. The best course of action is to prevent pests from entering the premises in the first place.

A preventive approach to pest control defines what clients are responsible for and what the pest management professional is responsible for with regard to sanitation, maintenance, cleaning, cultural practices and other areas that contribute to pest problems. It is usually less expensive than dealing with a full infestation.

Many factors influence the growth of a pest population, such as natural enemies, weather and food availability. Some natural barriers, such as mountains or large bodies of water, limit the movement of pests. The availability of shelter and roosting sites influences the number of pests, as do the presence of overwintering grounds. The life cycles of many pests restrict their populations and make them vulnerable to control measures that interrupt those cycles.

In many cases, natural predators or parasitoids can reduce a pest population without the need for chemical controls. Examples of these are lacewings, lady beetles and robber flies. Insecticides may be used in a limited way to enhance these natural controls.

A good pest prevention program starts with a thorough inspection of the property, including the structure, surrounding grounds and buildings. A flashlight and a magnifying glass are useful tools for inspecting dark, secluded spots where pests hide and breed. A telescoping mirror allows the inspector to check under and behind equipment and furniture.

The inspector should also take note of what makes the area attractive to pests. Woodpiles, weedy areas, compost piles and piles of debris can provide food, water and hiding places for pests. Regular weeding and trash removal can help keep pests away from the house. Gutters should be cleared of leaves and debris, and the roof should be checked for leaks or openings.

Indoors, the house should be vacuumed and washed regularly with hot water to remove dust and mites. Beds, rugs and pillows should be washed to rid them of fleas and bedbugs. Kitchens should be kept clean and food stored in sealed containers to avoid pest attraction.

Pest Control Methods

Once pests gain a foothold in your home, garden or yard, it’s only a matter of time before they start doing damage and creating health risks. That’s why preventing their spread is so important: pest infestations that are allowed to get out of control can quickly snowball into serious problems, such as structural damage or even serious illness for people and pets.

There are several ways to determine if pest control is needed:

Preventive methods include denying the pests the food, water or shelter that they need to survive and reproduce. For example, removing all possible sources of food for insects, such as keeping garbage in tightly covered containers and fixing leaky faucets, helps keep their numbers down. Mulching around plants deprives weeds of the sunlight they need for germination, and eliminating moisture sources can prevent fungal diseases in leaves.

Physical or mechanical control methods use traps, screens, fences, barriers and other devices to physically block the pests or alter their environment. For instance, tin foil can be used as an effective barrier for many ant species. Physical traps, netting and decoys are also common pest control tools.

Chemical pest control uses solutions, such as repellents and insecticides, to kill or deter the pests. These solutions are typically faster-acting than preventive measures, but they may pose health and environmental concerns when used incorrectly or in excess.

Biological pest control uses organisms that are natural enemies of the targeted pest, such as predators and parasites. Biological controls are less invasive than chemical pesticides and can be more cost-effective, but they still take some time to work. Examples of biological pest control include nematodes, such as the cockroach-eating bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which can be sprayed to kill caterpillars, and biostimulants, such as organic compost. Fumigation is another chemical pest control method that involves sealing and filling a building with special gases to completely eradicate pests. Eradication is rarely attempted in outdoor settings, but it’s an option for indoor spaces such as food processing and storage facilities. Eradication is also sometimes an option for imported pests such as Mediterranean fruit flies and gypsy moths.


A pesticide is any substance that kills or prevents the growth of a damaging organism. It can be manufactured from natural products or from synthetic chemicals. It can be used on plants, animals or rodents. It can also be used to protect structures or products from damage. Pesticides come in many forms, including spray cans and crop dusters, liquids or powders. They can be found in your house and garden as well as on crops, in the workplace or at schools and businesses.

Over 800 different types of pesticides are registered in the United States. They are grouped into categories by the type of organism they control and by how they work. Insecticides kill insects; herbicides destroy weeds and other unwanted vegetation; fungicides kill mold and mildew; and rodenticides kill mice and other rodents. Other pesticides may modify a plant’s growth (regulators), drop the plant’s leaves prematurely (defoliants) or act as a drying agent (desiccants).

Chemical pesticides are often toxic when absorbed through the skin, inhaled or swallowed. They are often contaminated with impurities or “contaminants” that are not purposely added but are a result of the manufacturing process, such as dioxins and DDT. In addition, they may break down into metabolites that are just as or even more hazardous than the parent pesticide.

Natural and organic pesticides are based on things found in nature, such as microbes, certain minerals or plant extracts. They are usually allowed for use on organic crops. Synthetic pesticides are chemical compounds or mixtures that are designed to mimic the action of a naturally occurring substance and are generally required for conventional agriculture.

All pesticides cause harm to the environment when they are applied improperly or in excess. In addition, they can lead to diseases in humans and other animals when ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Insecticides can also be a significant contributor to the decline of pollinators, which are critical to food production, and they can create conditions that foster the growth of pathogens that threaten human and animal health. They can also contribute to ambient pollution and harm water quality.

The Economics of Pest Control: Cost-Effective Strategies for Homeowners

The pest control industry offers a wide variety of treatment options. These include natural, biological, cultural, mechanical, and regulatory controls.

For example, mulching around plants can help keep them healthy and less attractive to pests. Regular trash removal with lids can reduce the likelihood of pests raiding your open bin. And reducing clutter eliminates places for pests to hide. Contact Pest Control O’fallon MO now!

Insects are generally considered to be pests when they injure or destroy crops, vegetables or fruits. But insects can also be beneficial from a human viewpoint. They pollinate plants, act as scavengers and control other pest insects. Their body parts and droppings enrich soil.

Most of the 1 million known insect species do not damage humans, buildings or crops. Some, such as honeybees and other pollinators, are considered important to our food supply. Others, like fleas, ticks and mites, cause discomfort for humans by feeding on them or spreading disease.

Pests may be controlled by destroying eggs or larvae before they mature, as well as spraying adults with insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils and neem oil, making sure that the entire surface is covered. In addition, row covers and reflective mulch can help prevent pests from entering a planting.

It takes time for most insecticides to reach full efficacy. Therefore, it is especially important to spray a pest when its population is low. This can be accomplished by examining egg clusters to determine when the bugs are about to hatch or by monitoring adults closely for signs of infestation.

Parasites kill other insects, and predators attack and consume them. The number of parasites and predators depends on the size of a pest’s population, as does the rate at which it grows. Therefore, it is very difficult to eradicate an insect infestation completely.

Nevertheless, a careful application of natural enemy organisms can significantly reduce the need for pesticides. The goal should be to keep pest numbers at a sustainable level through careful management of crops and landscapes.

Many commercially available “organic” pesticides are derived from extracts of plants or animals and do not contain synthetic chemicals. However, these products do not always provide effective control, and can be more hazardous to the environment, pets and people than conventional pesticides. In addition, they can require longer intervals between applications than do traditional insecticides. If organic insecticides are used, they must be applied as recommended in the label’s directions.


Rodents are small mammals that make up the family Muridae, which includes rats, mice and squirrels. While rodents are important members of many ecosystems, they often become pests when they invade people’s living spaces and eat food, contaminate water, chew through wires and damage property. They also transmit diseases and act as hosts for fleas, which in turn spread rodent-borne diseases such as plague, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and salmonella. In addition, they damage crops and landscapes by digging up and eating plant roots.

Rodent infestations are a common problem for homeowners and can occur due to easy access to food, water and shelter inside buildings. Rats and mice easily crawl through openings in vents, drainage pipes and sewer lines to get indoors, where they can find more food and nesting materials. They may also chew through wires, which is a major fire risk in the home. In fact, it’s estimated that 25 percent of all house fires attributed to unknown causes are actually started by rodent gnawing on wiring.

A typical large city receives tens of thousands of rodent complaints and performs tens of thousands of inspections and baiting services each year. The most common residential species of rodent are the Norway rat, the black rat and the house mouse. These are known as “commensal” rodents, meaning that they have adapted to share the same habitat with humans, using structures for food and shelter and feeding on the same seeds and grains used in human foodstuffs.

Rodents can cause significant problems in homes, including structural damage from gnawing and burrowing. They also contaminate food with their fur and urine, destroying it, and they can transmit disease, such as the bubonic plague that killed 25 million people in Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Rodents are difficult to control because of their adaptability and prolific reproduction. They are also leery of new things in their environment and can quickly learn to avoid traps. Taking measures to reduce the attractiveness of baits and rodent droppings, such as removing them promptly and thoroughly cleaning surfaces, can help prevent them from becoming wary of traps and other controls. It is also advisable to place traps in pairs or groups, and to use several different types of traps.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are a major problem in hotels, motels, apartments and homes. They require a constant supply of blood to grow and reproduce, which they get from sleeping people. Although they feed at night, the pests are active during the day as well, searching for a host. Their presence usually causes itchy welts and other symptoms in humans. These critters are notoriously difficult to eradicate. Their small size allows them to hide in a wide range of places, from seams and folds of mattresses to cracks in walls, bed frames and furniture. They also reside in drawers and cabinets, on door and window frames, in wood paneling and behind pictures.

Many household products, including bleach, alcohol, cigarette lighters and “bug bombs” (foggers), are ineffective against them and can actually be dangerous. Professional heat treatments are the most effective option; they destroy all stages of a bed bug and eliminate their eggs. The process is expensive and takes several hours to complete, but the results are permanent.

Cooperation by occupants during treatment is essential to a successful outcome. Bed bug treatment requires thorough inspection of rooms and adjacent areas for these mobile pests, which are often found in the crevices of beds, dressers, bedside tables and chair backs, closets, wallboards and wood framing, under loose wallpaper and in crowded rooms. Excess clutter should be removed, as this affords more hiding spots for the insects. Items that are heavily infested should be bagged or wrapped in plastic to prevent dislodging the pests on en route to a trash can or dumpster and to limit their spread.

Insecticides are generally used by professionals to manage a bed bug infestation; they are available in liquids, sprays and aerosols. The EPA’s product search tool can help you find one that is suitable for your home. Many of these products have specific instructions for use and require multiple applications to be effective, so it is important to follow the directions carefully.

Preventive measures include sealing cracks and crevices in which the pests can hide, checking luggage and clothing upon returning from a site where bed bugs may be present and washing all clothes and linens at the destination before bringing them home, and educating staff to inspect sleeping and seating areas. Some people suggest a mattress cover that keeps the pests from escaping during washing, while others advise putting shoes in an outside closet after leaving an infested hotel or hostel and decontaminating suitcases on arrival at home.

Other Pests

Other pests include those that damage crops or infest homes and other structures. Some of these pests transmit disease to people, pets or livestock. Diseases such as West Nile virus spread by mosquitoes and Lyme disease spread by ticks can be serious or even fatal. Others, like roaches and ants, cause itchy and frustrating infestations that can be difficult to get rid of without the help of an Ehrlich specialist.

There are many different ways to classify organisms as being pests, but one common approach is based on their impact on human activities. Pests interrupt normal processes such as growing, harvesting or eating and they can interfere with the function of ecosystems by disrupting the balance of populations of other organisms. Pests also pose a threat to health by spreading pathogens that can infect humans and animals with serious diseases.

Pests can be separated into groups according to their feeding habits. Defoliators that strip plants bare are one group, and caterpillars that consume entire leaves or plant parts are another. Leafminers dig tunnels into leaves and tell-tale signs of their presence include the creation of leaf galls. Another group includes gall makers that insert all or part of their bodies into plant tissue to form swollen areas, such as the alfalfa weevil and spruce gall aphid.

The Hymenoptera order contains insects that are social and live in colonies, such as honey bees, hornets, yellowjackets and wasps. Some species, however, are solitary and act as predators or parasites of other insect pests. These include parasitic bees and wasps, leafcutting bees, digger bees and stem sawflies (Borer et al, 1989). The Homoptera order includes the most important pest insects of agricultural crops such as aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, adelgids and psyllids, and the largest insects of all, the cicada.

Some solitary predatory and parasitic species are important natural enemies of crop pests. These natural enemies can be conserved to maintain their population levels or introduced in large numbers to suppress pests and reduce the need for chemical control. This is called biological control. Successful biological control involves the mass rearing of predators and parasitoids and periodic releases to the field, either on a seasonal basis or inundatively.

Pest Control – Identifying Pests and Their Problems

Identifying pests, their problems, and treatment options is essential to getting your problem under control. Take preventative measures by removing food, water and shelter sources; store garbage with tight lids and reduce clutter. Contact Pest Control Nampa now!


Insects are the largest group of arthropods (insects, spiders and lobsters). They have three pairs of legs, segmented bodies, and one pair of antennae. Many insects have piercing mouthparts to suck juice or plant material, while others have chewing mouthparts to eat leaves and stems.

Insect species have a huge impact on the global ecosystem. They pollinate plants, serve as decomposers, and control pest insect populations. Insects are also important food sources for animals and humans. Unfortunately, insects may be harmful from a human standpoint as well, causing direct injury by biting or stinging, or indirectly through their transmission of diseases.

The majority of insect species undergo complete metamorphosis, going from eggs to larvae, pupae and adults. However, a few insect species have incomplete life cycles. Insects with incomplete lives hatch from eggs into tiny nymphs that resemble the adult insect, but do not have fully developed wings. These insects injure plants by chewing on leaves, stems and roots, or by laying their eggs on them.

Some insects, such as the sandflies, salt-marsh mosquitoes and blowflies of cattle, can carry disease pathogens inside them that are then injected into plants through hypodermic feeding. In some cases, these pathogens cause significant crop damage.

Other insects injure crops by serving as scavengers or feeding on extrafloral nectar. Seed-treatments with neonicotinoid insecticides like imidacloprid, thiamethoxane and methyl bromide reduce populations of natural enemies of pest crops, including parasitoids, predatory mites, rove beetles and ladybugs. This, in turn, increases the population of herbivorous pest species [81]. Standard laboratory toxicity tests cannot detect these indirect effects; models (e.g., microcosms and mesocosms) are needed to evaluate ecological impacts.


Rats are very adaptable and highly mobile pests that are extremely hard-wired to survive. They can find many ways to enter homes and businesses, including through openings in foundations, walls and roof cavities, ductwork, drains and vents and open doors. Their teeth can even chew through concrete! They also carry germs and diseases that can cause disease in people, such as salmonella poisoning in food preparation areas and leptospirosis, which causes fever, chills, muscle aches and headaches.

Rats and mice can also create fire hazards by gnawing on wires and can be a major asthma trigger. They also damage property and are a serious health concern, as their droppings can lead to rat-borne salmonella poisoning and the bacterial disease leptospirosis which can lead to meningitis.

Preventative measures include sealing pipes leading from outside water supplies, garden hoses and hot water tanks and adding door sweeps to garage or outbuilding doors. Store woodpiles well away from buildings and keep sheds clean to remove potential nesting sites. Keep weeds and dense shrubbery cut back to prevent rodents sheltering under them and keep compost heaps covered or in a lockable outbuilding. Make sure the roof is in good condition and that chimneys are capped.

Physical/mechanical controls include placing nontoxic monitoring bait blocks in tamper-resistant stations around the perimeter of buildings in areas where rats and mice are often found (e.g., food service areas, custodial closets, laundry rooms, garbage disposal area, crawl spaces, under sinks and sill plates). Visually inspect these areas on a regular basis for signs of rodent activity. Dispose of traps promptly and thoroughly wash hands after handling dead rodents. When using snap traps or repeating catch-all devices, place them in a “T” shape against baseboards and walls where mouse rub marks and droppings are present. Consider using a rodent-friendly bait such as chunky peanut butter, which is easier for children and pets to use than live bait.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small, wingless insects with flat bodies that allow them to fit into tight spaces, like the cracks and crevices of headboards, box springs, and the seams of mattresses. Their coloration varies from mahogany to red-brown when unfed, and they are translucent rather than brownish black as nymphs (babies). These pests are difficult for homeowners to detect without professional help, because they tend to hide during the day and become active at night to feed.

While increased global travel is often cited as one of the main causes of the recent bed bug resurgence, lack of awareness and a “it will never happen to me” attitude also contribute to their widespread prevalence. Bed bug infestations can be extremely difficult to control once they occur because they are resistant to many of the most popular and widely used pesticides.

Some effective pesticides include pyrethroid sprays (look for the U.S. EPA registration number on the label), which must be applied carefully for safety and success, as well as baits that use insecticide-laden gel or granules to kill insects that ingest them. However, bed bugs are also tolerant of many common household products and can develop resistance to them over time. Aerosol “bug bombs” and total-release foggers are also largely ineffective against bed bugs.

To reduce bed bug populations, vacuum all areas that are prone to them on a daily basis and immediately seal and dispose of the vacuum bag. Wash all bedding, including curtains and clothes, in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Consider encasing your mattress and box spring with specially designed bed bug encasements. Installing interceptors under beds and furniture legs, which prevent the pests from crawling up the surfaces to access their hiding places, is another helpful practice.


The mosquito is a two-winged fly (family Diptera) that feeds on blood and transmits some diseases. Female mosquitoes need blood in order to produce eggs that will develop into viable adults. When a mosquito senses carbon dioxide from the host, she targets it with her mouthparts that are specially adapted for probing into skin and finding a capillary for sucking blood. Mosquitoes can be carriers of mosquito-borne illnesses such as encephalitis and West Nile virus.

A swarm of mosquitoes are commonly called a “mosquito cloud.” During the day, mosquitoes rest in and around vegetation and structures. At dusk and after dark, they are out searching for their next blood meal. Adult mosquitoes are most active during cool weather.

Mosquitoes breed in standing water and can survive only if they have adequate food. They can live for a few days or, in warm moist climates, up to several months. Most mosquitoes breed in domestic sources of standing water such as flower pots, discarded tires, and rain barrels. However, some species such as Aedes aegypti, the major vector of yellow fever, breed in natural water bodies such as swamps and marshes.

Mosquitoes have been found to hum, producing a harmony that may serve as a signal of potential mates. They also adjust their wingbeat frequency to match that of their conspecific in a mating dance. After mating, a female will then search for a blood meal in order to produce her eggs. In the process, she will contaminate her salivary glands with bacteria, viruses and other pathogens from her host’s blood. This can cause disease in humans, animals and plants. To help keep mosquito populations low, empty and clean bird baths, fountains, wading pools, swimming pools, and other containers with stagnant water. Keep yard areas free of piles of brush and debris where mosquito larvae can hide. Keep roof gutters clear and draining, and repair torn window and door screens. Consider introducing small native fish to ornamental ponds and other water gardens to consume mosquito larvae.


Fleas are tiny, wingless parasites that survive by sucking blood from birds and mammals. They find hosts by sensing body heat and movement through a host’s skin, fur, feathers or hair. Pets are common carriers of fleas and can bring them into the home. Once inside, fleas can be difficult to spot. Observing your pet’s behavior is the best way to tell whether or not they are a carrier, as excessive scratching and biting indicate the presence of fleas. Inspecting your home and yard regularly can also help prevent a flea infestation.

Flea eggs are small and white, making them hard to see unless you are specifically looking for them. The larvae (maggot-like worms) are clear and look similar to dandruff. Larvae feed on dandruff, pet skin flakes, animal blood and their own feces, which they poop out in tiny pellets called “flea dirt.” Pupae are dark and look like ground pepper, often hiding in cracks or crevices in carpets and furniture.

Effective flea control requires a coordinated approach. Monthly applications of topical medications can protect pets by killing and repelling fleas. These treatments must be applied correctly and often. Vacuuming frequently helps remove fleas from pet bedding and other surfaces. Insecticides and growth regulators can be used in sprays, dips, or aerosols to kill adult fleas and stop them from laying eggs.

Infestations that are not addressed by a professional pest control service can quickly become out of hand. A flea infestation can be time-consuming to eradicate. Hiring a professional takes the problem off of your hands and allows you to focus on other tasks. In addition, pest professionals are trained to safely handle the chemicals and pesticides they use, removing the risk of illness from incorrect handling.

The Importance of Articles on Pest Control for Hospitality Businesses

Articles are a great way to show expertise on a topic, drive traffic to your site, and convert customers. They are a key tool for every hospitality business.

Reduce pest problems by taking away their food sources and shelter. Remove garbage regularly and reduce clutter where they can breed or hide. For more information, click the Kansas City Pest Control to proceed.

Pest identification is a key step in developing an effective pest control strategy. Identifying pests to species level allows you to gather important information such as the pest’s life cycle and natural enemies. It also helps you determine whether biological control is appropriate.

Generally, it is best to use the least toxic method to eliminate a pest problem. For example, if an insect infestation is in the house, try sealing up entry points or making sure there are adequate drains in basements and crawl spaces. If pesticides are used, the most effective way to use them is by spot application and targeting specific areas where the infestation is occurring.

In addition, when using pesticides, keep in mind that the treatment site is a complex ecosystem. This includes living organisms, such as people and pets, and nonliving environments, such as plants, soil, water, and structures. Unless you understand the interactions within this system, your pest control efforts could cause more harm than good.

To minimize the risk of pesticide failure, monitor pest populations regularly to assess the level of a problem. Monitoring techniques include scouting, trapping, and visual inspection. These methods can help you detect pests when they are at low levels and before their numbers increase to damaging levels.

In some cases, it may be possible to prevent or avoid an infestation altogether. For example, if you have a cockroach problem in the house, you can try to make the environment less attractive by eliminating food sources and moisture. Other preventive measures might include:

Scouting and monitoring should be done on a regular basis, from daily to weekly depending on the pest and environment. A flashlight and a telescoping mirror are useful tools to help you inspect dark, secluded areas, such as under leaves or behind equipment. A magnifier is helpful for examining small insect parts, frass (excrement), and other evidence of pest activity.

For insect pests, identification to order is necessary so that the proper biological control agent can be selected if chemical controls are needed. This is because most approved biological control agents (such as Bacillus thuringiensis) are species specific.


While we often think of pesticides as the insect killers, weed killers and fungicides that we purchase at the store, the term pesticide actually covers a broad spectrum of products. They are any substance or mixture of substances that is used to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate a pest. These include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, plant growth regulators, defoliants and desiccants.

Many chemicals used as pesticides are extremely toxic to humans and other animals. The risk of harm depends on the type of chemical and how it is used. The pesticide may enter the body through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact. When a person is exposed to a pesticide, it can cause immediate and chronic health effects, such as respiratory illness or neurological problems. When a person is exposed to pesticides over an extended period of time, it can lead to diseases such as cancer and reproductive disorders.

Most pesticides are derived from synthetic chemicals. Some are manufactured from living organisms such as bacteria, viruses or plants. Others are produced by fermentation or synthesis. A pesticide may take the form of a solid, liquid, powder or aerosol. The type of pesticide used will depend on the kind of pest that is being controlled.

When pesticides are used, they contaminate the air, water and soil. These contaminants can poison and kill organisms that are not the intended targets, as well as disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem. For example, some pesticides pollute the water supply by killing off organisms that make the water clean enough to drink or irrigate crops. They also may “sterilize” soil, removing the microorganisms that are essential to healthy plant growth and food production.

The wide use of pesticides makes direct contact with them inevitable for some wildlife. The impact on a species or habitat can be acute, such as death from direct exposure, or chronic, as the result of continuous low-level exposure over long periods of time.

Many wildlife groups have worked to limit the amount of pesticides that are allowed to be used on their habitats. The group, Beyond Pesticides, for example, has challenged the Environmental Protection Agency when it tries to approve new pesticides that might harm endangered wildlife species.

Biological Control

Biological control is the use of living organisms (predators, parasitoids, and pathogens) to suppress pest populations. It can be done by importing and releasing natural enemies into fields or greenhouses, by conserving them and introducing them on a regular basis, or by mass rearing and periodic releases.

Agricultural pests are unwanted insects, mites, weeds, or plant diseases that damage crops or ornamental plants. These organisms are suppressed below damaging or intolerable levels by natural means, or, in the case of pesticides, through chemical controls. Biological controls are environmentally safe, energy self-sufficient, cost-effective and sustainable, and can be used in an integrated pest management program. Moreover, they are less likely to cause environmental harm than chemical pesticides and do not contribute to the development of resistance in target species.

Many of the organisms that are used as biological controls are specialized and highly specific to attack only the pests that they are designed to target. Consequently, they are often expensive to acquire and establish in a field or greenhouse.

In classical biological control, scientists identify the location of a potential pest’s origin and then travel to that region to collect the appropriate native or exotic natural enemy species to control the pest. The natural enemy is passed through a rigorous quarantine and testing process to ensure that it does not have undesirable effects on other species before being released. Examples of classical biological control include the use of decapitating flies against red imported fire ants and a group of flea beetles and thrips against alligator weed.

Other biological control mechanisms are less costly to acquire and establish, but still require careful design to ensure that they will be effective at controlling pests. For example, predators and parasitoids can reduce populations through direct consumption of the pests. In addition, some predators release non-consumptive chemicals that manipulate the behavior of their prey. These non-consumptive chemicals can be as effective in reducing pest numbers as direct consumption.

Another way to increase the effectiveness of biological control is to enhance the environment in which it occurs. Providing habitat that is useful to the organisms can help to attract and retain them, as well as to provide food and shelter for them. For instance, caterpillars and their parasites feed on certain flowers, which can be planted in the field to encourage the presence of these beneficial insects.


Pests can cause major damage to properties and health issues for humans and animals. They are also a nuisance and can destroy the reputation of businesses such as restaurants or hotels. Preventative pest control is the best way to deal with this issue, preventing pests from invading buildings and environments. Preventative pest control involves identifying and blocking the entry points of pests into a building or environment, regular inspections, and use of proper repellants. It also includes reducing food and water supplies for the pests and keeping garbage cans closed at all times.

Some pests are a continuous problem and require frequent control, while others may come and go. Some pests are sporadic and only need to be controlled when they build up to an unacceptable level. Depending on the situation, a pest control strategy can be used that targets prevention, suppression, or eradication.

Prevention involves blocking the entrance of a pest into an environment by sealing cracks, using screens on windows and doors, and installing tight-fitting lids on garbage cans. Taking away the food, water and shelter sources for the pests can also prevent them from coming into homes or establishments. Clutter also provides places for them to breed and hide, so getting rid of it can help prevent infestations.

Other ways to keep pests out of a building include inspecting food shipments and patching holes in walls. Cleaning trash cans frequently and storing them outdoors or in the garage will also help reduce pests. It is also important to clean up spills, rinse and wash utensils after each use, and store foods in sealed containers.

If prevention methods fail, there are many chemical products on the market to control pests, such as aerosol sprays, dusts, baits, gels, or liquid insecticides. The EPA usually regulates these and do not harm other plants or animals, but people can be harmed by breathing in these chemicals, so it is important to follow the instructions on the product label.

When using chemical pesticides, it is important to remove food and cooking utensils from the area before spraying and to use surface sprays in out-of-the-way areas, such as along skirting boards. It is also a good idea to wear a face mask when applying any pesticide, and to avoid bringing children or pets into areas that are being treated.