What is Pest Control?

Pest control is any activity or practice intended to prevent or destroy pests. This includes activities like monitoring, identifying, and correctly assessing pests; choosing management strategies that reduce numbers or damage to an acceptable level; and safely using pesticides when necessary. Click the https://killianpestcontrol.com/ to learn more.

Mechanical and physical controls kill or block pests and can include traps, screens, barriers, and watering systems. They can also include using plants that are more resistant to pests.

Pests can cause a great deal of damage to property and health. Insects may sting, bite or carry diseases and rodent droppings can spread disease to people and pets as well as contaminate food supplies. It is much easier and less expensive to prevent pest infestations than it is to treat them once they have taken hold.

Pest prevention involves denying pests access to a facility and removing conditions that make them attractive. This includes establishing sanitation and cleaning protocols, sealing cracks, crevices and expansion joints, and conducting regular pest trend analysis, risk assessment, and exclusion. It also entails identifying and monitoring food sources, preventing water leakage, reducing clutter in the plant, and installing door sweeps. It also entails establishing who on staff is responsible for inspecting incoming shipments and checking locker rooms and employee uniforms for pests before they enter the plant. It also includes identifying what areas are to be wet washed rather than dry cleaned to reduce moisture and pest attraction.

Prevention also entails educating employees on the importance of practicing good hygiene and keeping food, water and shelter away from pests. This may include taking away food scraps and storing them in sealable containers, removing trash regularly, maintaining proper sanitary practices (including wet washing clothing) and reducing cluttered areas where pests can hide. It also entails learning about the pests’ lifespan and life cycle, including the ability to recognize eggs, larvae, nymphs and winged adults. This knowledge is helpful in determining what and when to treat for pests as some chemicals are only effective at certain life stages.

It is also important to incorporate the use of beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, into pest control programs. Nematodes, microscopic worms that help suppress pest populations, can be effective as well. Using these natural predators can minimize the need for chemical pesticides and reduce risks to people, animals and the environment. This is known as threshold-based decision making and is the foundation of an effective Integrated Pest Management Program. The use of chemical pesticides for prevention must be done with care and precision to avoid environmental contamination and maximize efficacy. Techniques such as spot treatment and strategic spraying can help localize the application of chemicals to pest hot spots.


Pests are organisms that are undesirable because of their economic or health impacts. They include rodents (e.g., rats and mice), ants, beetles, caterpillars, moths, fruit flies, fermentation flies and other flying insects, weeds and plant diseases. They can cause biological contamination of foodstuffs with their droppings, contaminated water with disease-causing pathogens or physical damage to products and processing equipment.

Suppression is reducing the pest population to an acceptable level, which may require frequent treatment and the use of pesticides. This type of control is useful when a pest cannot be eliminated by prevention or other management strategies.

Some pests are continuous and need regular control; sporadic pests are migratory, cyclical or other occasional organisms that need control on a less frequent basis; and potential pests are organisms that are not pests under current conditions but could become pests in certain circumstances. The choice of which type of pest to control is based on thresholds—the point below which the risk of damage from the pest is acceptable.

Physical Barriers

Clutter provides shelter for pests, and removing it can be an effective control method. Closing off areas where pests can enter is also important, and caulking cracks and crevices can help. In greenhouses, netting and screening can prevent pests from damaging crops; mulch can inhibit weed germination; and barriers such as electric fences, nets, radiation, or heat can be used to discourage the entry of some pests.

Biological Controls

The introduction of natural enemies can reduce the number of pests in agricultural areas. Some examples are the ants that prey on mites in orange groves, nematodes such as Steinernema carpocapsae that kill harmful soil grubs, and Encarsia formosa wasps that parasitize greenhouse whitefly. These agents are often commercially available and can be used in combination with other control methods.

Chemical Pesticides

The use of chemicals to kill or repel pests is a common form of pest control, but it must be carefully done to avoid harming people and pets. Many pesticides are available in ready-to-use spray bottles and can be safely applied to specific areas where the pests live or hide. Before using any pesticide, it is important to read the product label for instructions and safety warnings.


The goal of eradication is to eliminate the pest from a defined area or region. This is much harder to do than prevention or suppression and requires dedicated efforts by governments, organizations and individuals around the world. Eradication is often used to control invasive foreign plants, such as Mediterranean fruit fly or gypsy moth, or insects such as mosquitoes, Asian longhorn beetles and weeds. Eradication is also a common objective in enclosed areas, such as greenhouses or indoor crops.

The process of eradication involves controlling all the elements of a pest’s life cycle, from egg to adult, and removing or blocking access to food sources and shelter. This can be done through biological, chemical or physical means. The biological method relies on natural enemies, such as parasites and predators, to kill or slow the growth of the pest. This can be accomplished by introducing natural enemies to the environment or encouraging them to occur naturally. Chemical methods typically involve using pesticides, but there are non-toxic alternatives, such as replacing the air with inert gas such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen, so that the insect dies from lack of oxygen. Physical controls include dispersal barriers and exclusion.

Another way to eradicate a pest is to destroy the host plant or pathogen that causes disease. This can be accomplished by burning, burying or using a combination of these and other control measures. Eradication is usually the objective of government agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture or EPA, working with agricultural producers and other groups.

Vaccination is another way to eradicate an infectious disease. Two diseases have been officially eradicated so far: smallpox (variola virus) and rinderpest (a relative of measles that affected cattle). The goal is to eventually reduce worldwide cases to zero and then keep them that way. In the case of polio, for example, the campaign led by The Carter Center has reduced wild (not vaccine derived) cases to a few per year, but the eradication will be complete only when all the remaining unvaccinated people become immune. The same is true for Guinea worm, although it has already been substantially reduced through vaccination.


IPM is an ecosystem-based approach to pest control that uses monitoring and information to reduce the need for chemical treatments. The process starts with understanding the life cycle of the pest and examining factors that affect its population growth or damage, such as weather, disease, or predators. Next, you take steps to make the environment unfavorable for the pest. This may include growing plants that are well adapted to our climate, using insect-resistant crops or plant varieties, sealing cracks in structures to prevent pests from entering, and other measures.

When pesticides are needed, they are applied according to established guidelines and are designed to remove only the target organism. These chemicals are typically used in combination with other techniques to reduce the amount of pesticide that is applied and to minimize risks to people, beneficial organisms, and nontarget plants. IPM practices also help to protect human health by preventing diseases caused by insects and by decreasing the exposure of children in schools to toxic pesticides.

Properly identifying pests is an important step in developing an IPM plan (see Figure below). It not only allows for the selection of management strategies that are specific to pest behavior, but can also reduce costs and hazards. There are a number of resources available through UF/IFAS and other organizations for identification of both pests and their hosts.

The goal of an IPM program is to keep pest populations below the economic injury level, which is a threshold below which crop losses would occur. However, an IPM program should also be designed to avoid evoking future evolutionary responses in the pests through fluctuating or balancing selection pressures and incorporating preventive tactics that reduce resistance development (see Box below).

Preventive measures include proper plant selection and placement, soil cultivation methods, and irrigation. If these controls are not effective in controlling the pest, then treatment options may be considered. These can include cultural practices, biological controls and the use of specific chemical control agents that are labeled for the pest. The application of IPM requires a great deal of monitoring, evaluation, and record keeping to be successful. However, the long-term benefits of this work far outweigh the initial cost of IPM techniques. In addition, IPM often results in additional financial savings not directly related to the pest problem, such as reduced energy costs by eliminating the need to heat or cool buildings and reduced water usage by irrigating with recycled rainwater.