Read our pest control posts.
Pest control is an issue with all parts of your property, including your house, your garden, your lawn, land, and ponds and lakes. We include some pest control information in each of the other sections, and due to it’s importance we provide more information as a main topic. Pest control can be hazardous, it can be labor intensive, and it can be expensive, but there are basic principles that can take away the majority of the hazards, the labor, and the expense. See our pest control pages here.
When we think of pests, we usually think of bugs or insects inside the home. That is only one part of the equation. Pests can be just about anywhere, and they are not just bugs. There are lawn and landscape pests, there are insect and weed pests as well, and there are larger pests like mice and rats, that can invade your house, and moles, gophers, and a number of other larger creatures that can cause problems outdoors. Pests are really just any living thing that you don’t want living in your space. The pesticides we use to exterminate these invaders are in 3 classes; insecticides, rodenticides, and herbicides. Used by themselves, these can kill pests, but to really get a handle on pest control, other methods are needed as well.
What we often call pest control is really pest management. Pest management includes both the control of existing pests, and pest prevention. Pest prevention should be the basis for any pest management program. If you do this part right, the other will become less frequent, less dangerous and less expensive.
Pest prevention has a few basic, common sense principles. Mostly, it comes down to changing the environment or habitat. Find what the pest likes and do away with it. If you can’t do away with it, then find a way to keep them from getting to it. Pests like cover. Pests like food, do away with those elements, and you break the cycle. Removing brush, weeds, and debris gets rid of most of the cover. Getting rid of the things that pests find tasty like excess pet foods and even pet feces, uncovered garbage containers, leftovers left over on the counter, spilled sugar and other such attractants will help to prevent pests from becoming a problem.
Pests also like animals. Fleas and ticks are attracted to dogs and cats, but you probably don’t want to get rid of your pets. Regular bathing and treatments may be needed for the purpose of prevention. Some pests find houses to be great for cover, but you need a place to live, so getting rid of your home is probably out of the question. That brings us to the second part, the “keeping them from getting to what they want” part. That’s what we call exclusion. sealing your home inside and out. Checking for holes and cracks, and then repairing them.
Prevention is the best form of pest management, and should be the first method used for pest management and pest control. Integrating your pest prevention program with the least toxic pest exterminating program that actually does the job will provide thorough pest control with the least environmental impact and can go a long way toward lowering your pest control cost.
Less toxic pest control
Pest prevention is the least toxic method of pest management. There are methods sometimes called less toxic. Less toxic methods are controls which are less toxic than standard pesticides, and include such botanical pest control agents as soaps, plant oils, and plant based pyrethrins. Some of these have been turned into highly effective mixes sold by a new breed of pest control products manufacturers. There are a number of high quality products available for the conscientious homeowner which rival the effectiveness of standard chemicals, and using them can be an effective means of protecting your family from the problems caused by pests while also protecting them from many of the hazards associated with synthesized chemical agents.
Standard pest control
The judicious application of standard pest control chemicals when done with all precautions and according to label directions is safe and effective. Some may argue this, but compared to the problems caused by pest borne diseases, it can make sense on a very practical level. Still, the fewer the pesticides used, the better, and the lower the toxicity the better. To determine the toxicity level of a pesticide, check the label for 1 of 3 words.
Caution, is the least toxic of the EPA label words, Warning is the next, and Danger is the most toxic of the 3. Try to choose the least toxic product that will do the job effectively. When using commercial pesticides, read the label carefully, and follow it to the letter. The label is the law, and using more than the label dictates may actually be less effective.
Integrated pest management
All of these methods used together in order of least toxic to most toxic comprise what is commonly known as integrated pest management or by the acronym IPM. It works well when properly carried out and followed through. Use all the available tools starting from those with the least environmental impact and the fewest hazards to your family and pets, then progress through the process to the careful use of more dangerous methods. Integrated pest management is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the hazards of pesticides, and the hazards of the pests themselves. IPM is just common sense.