Author: Caitlin Clark

Pest Control Crisis

Pests can cause serious damage and pose a health risk. A swarm of wasps hovering over a picnic table or rodent droppings in a wall void are warning signs that immediate action is needed.

Pest suppression and Springfield MO Pest Control are commonly the goals in outdoor pest situations. Eradication is rare.


pest control

Generally, a pest is any organism that interferes with human activities by damaging plants or other animals, by spreading disease or by causing discomfort. Although any organism may become a pest, many of the most problematic are insects, rodents and weeds. These organisms damage crops and other agricultural products, invade homes or business and spread diseases. They also irritate people by biting or crawling on them, and they can cause serious damage to structures and trees.

Usually, the number of a pest rises to a level that is unacceptable and control measures are necessary. There are several ways that pests can be controlled. The best approach depends on the situation and the pest.

The first step is to monitor the pests and make sure they are at a level that warrants control. Monitoring can include trapping or scouting for insect, insect-like, mollusk and vertebrate pests, as well as visual inspection of weeds and fungi. Monitoring often focuses on observing the effects of the pests on the environment and on humans, such as the number of plants being eaten, the amount of disease spread, the size of the population, etc.

Many of the organisms that are considered pests are usually a result of multiple factors and are therefore called complexes. For example, aphids and leafhoppers can spread a number of different plant diseases. Likewise, weak plants in nutrient deficient soils are more susceptible to pests. Many of these problems can be improved by crop rotation, maintaining proper soil nutrients (too much is just as harmful as too little), the use of cover crops and avoiding over-fertilization, as well as by using fungicides or pesticides.

There are a variety of biological methods that can be used to control pests, including parasites, predators and pathogens. There is a lag between the increase in the numbers of a pest’s enemies and the effect of these controls, however. Biological controls can be supplemented with the use of pheromones, juvenile hormones and other natural insect chemicals.

A balanced combination of prevention and suppression is usually the most effective way to control a pest. This is sometimes referred to as integrated pest management. The goal is to reduce the pest populations to a point where they are causing acceptable harm and then prevent them from building up again without additional control measures.


Pesticides are chemicals that kill or control pests (such as weeds, mildew, rodents and insects) that damage crops, people’s homes, or lawns. They come in many forms, including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and biopesticides. These chemicals can also harm the environment if they leak from sprayers or get into ground water or rivers. They can be spread by hand, sprayed from a plane or helicopter, injected into the soil or used as fogging agents.

Almost everyone is exposed to low levels of pesticides in their food, drinking water and through skin contact. People most at risk of pesticide exposure are agricultural workers who handle or apply large amounts of pesticides and anyone in the vicinity during and shortly after pesticides are spread. Children and pets can also be exposed to low levels of pesticides if they play on or near treated crops or surfaces.

There are many ways to reduce your exposure to pesticides, including using non-chemical methods. When pesticides are necessary, select the least toxic product and follow the label directions carefully. Be sure to store and dispose of pesticides properly, in a locked cabinet out of reach from children and pets.

The majority of the approximately 17,000 registered pesticide products in Canada are herbicides, fungicides or insecticides. The federal government, through Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), requires a thorough scientific evaluation to ensure that new pesticides meet rigorous human health and environmental standards before they are allowed to be sold or used in Canada. Existing pesticides are re-evaluated on a 15-year cycle, to ensure that they continue to meet modern standards and that their use instructions reflect current knowledge.

Chemicals that are no longer effective or safe for their intended uses are removed from the market, and their labels are amended to reflect this. Provincial and territorial governments can further regulate the sale, use and disposal of pesticides based on local considerations within their jurisdictions. For example, they can require the use of certain protective clothing for those who apply pesticides, prohibit the use of particular pesticides on sensitive agricultural land, or set higher limits for pesticide residues in food and drinking water.


Keeping pests at bay requires the use of both prevention and avoidance strategies. These strategies make life difficult for the pest organism by limiting its resources and creating inhospitable conditions. These include modifying the environment, such as lowering humidity and temperature, removing food sources, preventing access to a building, sealing cracks, repairing screens and doors, and avoiding plant diseases. They can also include physical barriers like screens, fences and netting, traps, baits and lures, and horticultural tactics like covering crops or moving plants to different locations.

Preventing pests is easier than getting rid of them, so this strategy is worth implementing early. For example, ants have five times as many odor receptors as people do, according to Terminix, which means that they can smell that leftover apple pie sitting out on the counter from quite a distance. The best way to keep them away is to store food in airtight containers, such as jars or Tupperware, and to regularly remove garbage from the home or business.

In the garden, regular weeding and picking up fallen fruits and vegetables can limit pest populations. Putting down organic mulches can prevent water runoff and soil erosion, and it can also reduce the number of weed seeds in the ground. If a particular plant has disease or insect pest problems every year, consider replacing it with a more resistant cultivar.

For commercial establishments, reducing access to the building is an important step. It is also helpful to identify ways that pests enter the facility and find solutions for preventing those pathways, such as sealing cracks, repairing screens and vents, installing sweeps and astragals to fill gaps under and between doors, and using insect-resistant or bird-proof window coverings.

Ideally, a pest control program should be designed to target the specific pest and its stages of development in order to cause as little harm as possible. For example, a good Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program will recognize that aphids are beneficial insects and will not target them with insecticides. Instead, it will use a combination of techniques that will kill the aphids while allowing the beneficial insects to do their work.


Pests such as rodents, birds and insects can be a nuisance or even dangerous to people. They may damage buildings, spoil food or disrupt life cycles in an environment. Their droppings can be a source of diseases, and their wings or bodies can carry dangerous pathogens. Some pests are also carriers of allergens such as cockroaches and fleas.

Most pests are controlled with the help of natural enemies that feed on them or parasitize them, and pathogens that reduce their numbers. Introducing more of these natural controls or supplementing them with insecticides may eliminate the pest population under certain conditions.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a process of managing pests and their control by using knowledge of ecology and biology to make tactical decisions that optimize the use of pesticides in an environmentally sound manner. It relies on monitoring and inspection to detect pest infestations, identifies the damage caused by a particular pest, and determines when to use control methods.

When it comes to controlling pests, prevention is better than cure. Sealing cracks and closing windows can keep pests out rather than spraying them with chemicals. Identifying the specific pest and tailoring the control method to it will lessen the chance of harming the environment or humans, and may be cheaper.

If a pest is detected, consider the economic damage it causes to crops or structures before selecting a control measure. IPM goals are to prevent pests from damaging a property or to keep their damage below an economic threshold level. Eradication of a pest usually is not a goal in outdoor situations, though it may be attempted with some pests, such as the Mediterranean fruit fly and gypsy moth.

Keeping buildings and their surroundings clean and uncluttered can reduce the chances of pests entering, though they will probably be found in some areas. If pests do enter, it is important to quickly remove them before they cause significant damage. It is also crucial to monitor building occupants for symptoms of exposure to pests. In addition, the climate affects pest populations, and rain or freezing temperatures can decrease their growth or cause them to die off.