Tips about Pesticides

People often tell me they don’t use pesticides. Then, in the next breath, they talk about using fertilizers combined with weed killers. A weed is a pest. A weed killer or herbicide kills weeds. Herbicides are pesticides. Anything that kills or repels something is a pesticide such as flea collars, ant or rodent baits, copper or sulfur sprays, insect killers and even anti-bacterial soaps. A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.

Know your pest before you purchase a pesticide. Too often people spray haphazardly hoping for results. Someone came to me recently with brown spots in a lawn. Before they knew what the problem was, they applied insecticides and fungicides. Yet, all they needed to do was adjust their irrigation system.

Read the label before you purchase a pesticide. The label is the law; you are legally obligated to read everything except the information about crops that you are not planning to treat. The directions for use and the rest of the information are important. Review the signal word (danger, caution or warning), precautionary statements, personal protective equipment requirements, emergency first aid measures, etc., as many times as necessary to fully understand them and ensure you are willing to follow them. Remember a little more is not better and could be dangerous to you, your family, your pets, wildlife or water quality.

Always transport pesticides in the car trunk or in the back of the truck. Do not transport in the same compartment with passengers, groceries or animal feed. Secure the containers to prevent spills due to sudden starts, turns and stops. Store pesticides in a locked and labeled cabinet or area. Read all labels to determine if ventilation and/or temperature controls are needed for your storage situation.

Don’t treat when winds are greater than 8 mph or rainfall is expected. These conditions may decrease performance of the pesticide and/or move it off-target. Protect pollinators. Most pesticides are not toxic to bees and, in general, insecticides are more likely to be toxic than fungicides and herbicides. When using a pollinator-toxic pesticide, make sure you know the proximity of commercial hives and native pollinator habitat, local pollinator visitation habits, and the blooming period of plants in the area, and follow all label directions and precautions.

If you keep plants healthy with proper watering, fertilization and maintenance, you will be less likely to need pesticides. When you need to use a pesticide, use it wisely. This information taken from “50 Ways to Treat Your Pesticide” (Syngenta and National Association of County Agriculture Agents).