A Word About Pesticides

pesticide signpes-ti-cide: any substance used to kill, repel, or otherwise control a pest. Pesticides are often referred to by the type of pest they control: insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, and disinfectants (to name a few).

What You Should Know

Think how many pesticides exist around your home - in the garage, under the kitchen sink, or in the backyard shed. All-purpose insecticides for the garden, weed & feed for your lawn, indoor ant and roach sprays, outdoor foggers, insect repellents, flea & tick collars and shampoos, weed killer for the driveway - even chlorine bleach - all of these products are pesticides commonly found in homes.

Too often people think many pesticides are "safe" just because they can be purchased at the local hardware store, garden supply, or supermarket.

Absolutely not!

Pesticides are designed to be toxic. Each time you apply a pesticide there may be unintended consequences. People (especially children and the elderly), pets and beneficial organisms may be affected. Water quality and aquatic life may also be impacted by outdoor applications.

To protect yourself and others, read and follow pesticide labels carefully. The label is a legal document that tells what pests the product controls and where it can be applied. Not following the label is actually a violation of federal law. The label also tells how to mix, store, and dispose of unused portions and empty containers. For garden use products, it says which crops can be treated and how long you must wait before picking a treated food crop.

It is wise to read the label before buying a pesticide, as well as before every application, even if you think you are familiar with the product. Don't rely on memory.

Always use the exact amount directed by the label (or less if it works) and under the conditions specified for the purpose listed. Using any pesticide in a way not consistent with the label is illegal and unsafe. Don't think double strength makes for a better product. It doesn't. Improper use increases risk. Of course, only use pesticides as a last resort.

Common Pesticides

  • Algicides - control algae in swimming pools, lakes, canals, and water used industrially or stored
  • Biocides - kill microorganisms
  • Disinfectants and Sanitizers - kill or inactivate disease-producing microorganisms (like bacteria and viruses) on inanimate objects
  • Fungicides - kill fungi (many infect and cause diseases in plants, animals, and people; examples: rusts, mildews, blights, and molds)
  • Fumigants - produce gas or vapor to destroy insects, fungi, bacteria, or rodents
  • Herbicides - kill weeds and other plants
  • Insecticides - kill insects
  • Miticides - kill mites that feed on plants and animals
  • Microbials - microorganisms that kill, inhibit, or out compete pests, including insects or other microorganisms
  • Molluscicides - kill snails and slugs
  • Nematicides - kill nematodes (microscopic, wormlike organisms that feed on plant roots)
  • Ovicides - kill eggs of insects and mites
  • Repellents - repel pests, including birds and insects
  • Rodenticides - control mice and other rodent pests