What is A Pesticide?

Insecticides, Herbicides, and Fungicides

What is A Pesticide?

Pesticides intend to control pests. Before discussing pesticides and what they are, let's define what a pest is. Pests can be living organisms which include insects, rodents, fungi and weeds. They are defined as pests when they cause damage to people, crops, plants, other animals, structures or otherwise become a nuisance.

A "pesticide" is any substance or mixture that intends to kill, repel or mitigate any pest. The pesticide can be chemical, natural, organic or mixtures. Pesticide is a broad term that includes insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides. As implied, insecticides control insects, spiders and scorpions. Herbicides control weeds. Fungicides control fungi or fungal spores. Another pesticide, rodentcide controls mice, rats and other rodents.

Determining what is a pest and how to control it is controversial. A pest can be both a friend and a foe. For example, a lady bug can be of benefit to your garden since it eats other insects that destroy plants. Spiders eat menacing insects that are a menace. Roaches are not very beneficial to anyone or anything. And most us wish termites did not even exist.

Pests that take up residence in your home are always a pest, particularly those that carry diseases. Some spiders like a Black Widow or Brown Recluse Spider can administer a venomous, painful bite and potentially serious hazard to the victim. Although very rare, the bites from the Black Widow and Brown Recluse can be fatal. Both insects and spiders in your yard can be beneficial unless they infest in big numbers which increases the likelihood they will invade the inside of your home.

Types of Insecticides

Insecticides can kill insects, just repel them or both. Insecticides can be chemical, natural or botanical. Chemical insecticides by their very nature can be toxic and create health risks to humans and pets. Chemicals are mostly used by professional and licensed pest control companies that are expert in handling and applying them. If you use them yourself, make sure you ask your provider about the degree of toxicity and alternative options.

Always read the labels carefully. Some chemical pest control products only target a specific pest while others may kill a a wide variety insect pests. Only apply enough insecticide to control the situation. You will never completely eliminate all pests and you never want to over-apply toxic chemicals to a degree that puts people and pets in jeopardy.

Natural insecticides like Borax have very low toxicity but will kill roaches, ants and some spiders. Sprinkled in cracks, crevices and other places where insects can enter your home can be just as effective as chemical insecticides. Some things you find in the kitchen such as baking soda may perform almost as well.

Botanical insecticides also include "essence oils" when diluted with water and vegetable oils. They include citrus, lemon. lavender and other oils. Essence oils generally will not kill insects but will repel them. They will work wonders keeping insects and spiders from entering your home. The diluted mixtures can be sprayed around window screens, doors, under cabinets and any place that would be an entry point. These should be re-applied every few months to perform as an ongoing barrier to repel many insect pests from entering your home.

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This page was last modified on 29 August 2012 at 15:25