Pest Prevention

Pests are organisms that damage or spoil crops, property or living areas. They also carry diseases and cause a variety of illnesses in people and animals.

Preventing pests can be done through a combination of tactics. The first step is learning about the specific pest and its control options. Contact Pest Control Meridian ID now!

Pest identification is the first step in developing a pest management program. It ensures that the correct control method is used and reduces the risk of non-target effects, such as killing beneficial organisms or damaging the environment. It also enables the selection of cultural practices, tools, and pesticides that are specific to the pest.

A pest is any organism that negatively impacts human activities, including agriculture, forestry, recreation, or home and garden use. An organism may become a pest for many reasons, such as its ability to cause disease or interfere with the growth and/or quality of crops, plants or animals. It may also cause economic or aesthetic problems.

Insects are the most common pests. Some insects, such as flies, mosquitos and caterpillars, are considered pests because they can transmit diseases to humans. Other insects such as wood-boring beetles, ants, and aphids, damage crops by chewing leaves, stems, or fruit. Invasive species and weeds are also considered pests as they compete with crops for space and nutrients.

Properly identifying the pest is important as it provides valuable information regarding the life cycle and biology of the organism. In addition, it allows for the development of management strategies that are specific to the pest’s needs and environment – thus minimizing potential side-effects.

There are a number of resources available for pest identification, such as online guides and printed reference books. These tools can be helpful for beginners or experienced growers alike.

To help identify pests, consider their morphological characteristics – such as size, shape, color, number of legs or wings, antennae, and mouthparts. The location, timing and type of damage observed also provide valuable information.

UF/IFAS offers several online pest identification guides. These guides can be used to help determine whether an insect is a nuisance pest that requires treatment, or if the pest can be tolerated and should not be removed.

Pest Prevention

Pest prevention aims to keep pests from invading homes or businesses. It is usually done through a combination of strategies, with vigilance in checking for signs of infestation and modifying cleaning practices that don’t invite pests. It also includes identifying possible entry points and sealing them, such as keeping exterior doors shut and closing gaps around utility lines. It also means storing food in tightly-covered containers, disposing of garbage regularly and removing it promptly from the property, and keeping landscaping away from structures.

Clutter provides places for pests to breed and hide and makes them more difficult to get rid of. It is important to clear away clutter, such as stacks of newspapers or cardboard, in addition to caulking cracks and crevices to prevent pests from entering buildings. Garbage should be stored in tightly-covered receptacles and the home’s foundation, roof and utility lines should be inspected regularly for openings.

It is also important to learn as much as possible about a particular pest, including its lifespan and life cycle. Knowing these details can help determine when an action plan is needed. For example, if pests are found in a business, it might be possible to take action only once their population reaches an unacceptable level—or even eliminate the problem completely with the right biological, cultural or chemical controls.

Pest control involves a complex mix of natural, biological, chemical, mechanical and physical methods. It is designed to protect the environment, human health and economic well-being from organisms such as bacteria, fungus, rodents, birds, nematodes, insects, plants and weeds that interfere with occupied spaces, disturb or destroy property, damage or displace desirable species, and transmit diseases to humans.

A plant that is prone to pest problems can be costly in many ways, from lost production and decreased revenue to product recalls and negative publicity. So it is understandable that facility and quality assurance managers, as well as upper management, want to put in place pest-control programs that are as effective as possible. These programs will allow them to be proud of the products they produce and to avoid embarrassing situations that could damage their reputation.

Pest Control Methods

The goal of pest control is to protect a crop, garden, forest or home from damage by controlling the number of pests. This is achieved by using tactics that cause as little harm as possible to everything except the pests themselves. Pest control methods fall into three categories: prevention, suppression and eradication. Prevention is the best method of pest control because it keeps pests from entering or damaging property.

Preventive measures include physical, mechanical and biological controls. These include removing food, water and shelter sources to prevent pests from living or feeding near desirable plants and homes. Store clothing and linens in plastic bags or boxes to keep moths away, remove roosting sites such as woodpiles and stacks of firewood, and ensure doors and windows are properly sealed. Water sources such as leaky pipes should be promptly repaired.

Biological control uses natural enemies, such as parasites, predators and pathogens to kill or reduce the population of targeted pests. This can be supplemented with chemical control techniques, such as releasing more of the enemy or using pheromones or juvenile hormones to disrupt reproduction and development.

Chemical control includes insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. These kill or inhibit the growth of targeted pests and are usually categorized according to the kind of pest they are intended to target: insecticides, for example, kill insects; herbicides, kill unwanted vegetation; fungicides, control fungi; and rodenticides, kill rodents.

Other chemicals, such as fumigants, can be used to suffocate or dehydrate pests. These are generally more toxic than other pest control methods and may pose a greater threat to humans and pets. Fumigation can also be extremely expensive.

Threshold-based decision-making is a key part of an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy. Regular scouting and monitoring allows you to determine whether or not pest numbers are high enough to warrant action. Knowing a bit about pest biology and ecology can help you decide the right time to act. It also helps you select the most appropriate control method and to apply it with precision, minimizing risk to non-target organisms.


Pesticides are chemicals that prevent, destroy or repel pests. A pesticide can be an insecticide, herbicide or fungicide. It can be liquid or powdered, or a mixture of these. A pesticide must be toxic to the specific organism that it is intended to control. It is also necessary that the pesticide be not harmful to other organisms (including humans) or the environment.

The chemical component of a pesticide that controls the pest is called the active ingredient. Liquid pesticides are usually mixed with water or petroleum products to form solutions, emulsions or suspensions. These mixtures are then applied as spot treatments, crack and crevice sprays, mists or fogs in confined areas or general sprays to larger areas. Liquid pesticides are applied with aerosol dispensers, hand-held compressed air sprayers, backpack sprayers or motorized spray units.

When using pesticides, remember to read and follow the label instructions and safety warnings carefully. Ensure that the area to be treated is well ventilated, and never apply more than what is recommended on the label. Over-application can waste the pesticide and contaminate the environment with excess chemicals.

Whenever possible, use nonchemical pest control methods before applying pesticides. Baits, traps and weed killers are safer than sprays, and they generally don’t leave residual chemicals that can be transferred to people or pets. Avoid spraying in windy conditions, which can carry the pesticide to areas where it is not needed or wanted.

Always be careful when working with any pesticide, especially in and around the home. Keep children and pets away from areas being treated. Cover or remove pet food and water dishes. Thoroughly wash any surfaces where pesticides may come in contact with food or food preparation utensils. Avoid spraying near heating or ventilation ducts.

Some pesticides, such as space sprays, are quick acting and break down quickly in the environment. Others, such as termite treatments or surface sprays, linger in the environment for days or even weeks after they are applied.

If a person is exposed to a pesticide, first rinse the skin and clothing with clean, running water. Be sure to rinse under the eyes, in case the pesticide gets into the eyes. If eye irritation persists, seek medical assistance. In addition, see the OSH Answers document on Pesticide Hazards and Effects on Humans for further information on how to minimize exposure hazards when working with pesticides.