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The Basics of Pest Control

Pests can cause damage to crops and also present a threat to human health. In the field of agriculture, pest control chemicals are used to reduce disease-carrying insect and rodent populations that can contaminate food products or carry pathogens like hantavirus, leptospirosis, salmonella and others. In residential settings, pest control can eliminate pests such as cockroaches, termites, bees and wasps that pose a risk to human health by carrying diseases or causing property damage.

In many cases, pests can be controlled without the use of chemical products. Physical¬†Pest Control methods include removing their source of food, water or shelter. For example, flies can be deterred by keeping a tight lid on outdoor garbage bins and regularly removing garbage from the home. Overripe fruits and vegetables can attract flies as well, so it’s best to keep them outside where they belong. Garbage can also serve as a breeding ground for pests like rats, ants and cockroaches, so it should be disposed of frequently and never left out for long periods of time.

Other physical pest control methods include preventing access to food and water by cleaning and sealing cracks and crevices in the home, eliminating breeding grounds by clearing and removing dark and damp areas around the home or garden, or installing pest-proof screens on windows. If these methods are not successful, commercial sprays may be needed. These can be aerosol treatments for cracks and crevices, liquid sprays for baseboards, granular or solid products for the outside, or baits. Always read the product label carefully and follow instructions to the letter. Choose a product that’s designed with your pest in mind and make sure the product is safe for kids, pets, wildlife and plants.

Natural pest control methods are often slower-acting than chemical ones and do not provide a guaranteed result, so it’s important to have a plan when using them. These methods also do not guarantee to eliminate the pest population completely, and may require repeated applications.

Pest control professionals know which techniques are most effective for different situations and will utilize a combination of options to get the job done as quickly and safely as possible. They will also consider environmental factors such as soil conditions, wind direction and proximity to sensitive species when choosing the appropriate method.

The most effective pest control methods are integrated into a comprehensive pest management program that includes preventative measures and non-chemical strategies. It’s important to keep in mind that pesticides are only one part of the solution, and using them when they are not necessary increases your risk of exposure and wastes money and resources. To avoid overusing pesticides, learn about the pest you’re trying to control and ask for recommendations from a professional or your local Cooperative Extension office. They can usually recommend products that are safer and more effective than those found in stores. It’s also essential to check your state’s pesticide database before purchasing a product, as these databases allow you to search for products by pest and by active ingredient.