Pests are living organisms that occur causing damage to crops or humans. Insects, rodents, and weeds are all examples of pests. A pesticide is any substance or mixture to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate pests. Pesticides can be insecticides, herbicides, or plant defoliants. Farmers, ranchers, and homeowners all use pesticides.
Types of Pesticides
Often the pesticide that is chosen to be used is very dependent on the type of pest trying to be controlled. Pesticides are grouped into three major categories: chemical pesticides, biopesticides, and pest type pesticides. Chemical pesticides can be organophosphate pesticides, carbamate pesticides, organchlorine pesticides (DDT), or pyrethroid pesticides. All of these chemical pesticides especially organophosphates have harmful effects on human health, specifically the nervous system. Biopesticides are pesticides that are derived from natural materials such as plants, animals, or minerals. Biopesticides are also grouped into three major categories: microbial pesticides, plant incorporated protectants, and biochemical pesticides. Microbial pesticides utilize microorganisms such as microbes as the active ingredient. Plant incorporated protectants are substances produced within the plant from additional genetic material added to the plant. Biochemical pesticides are substances that control pests by non-toxic mechanisms. Naturally occurring substances such as sex pheromones are used as biochemical pesticides. Lastly, pest type pesticides are groups of pesticides that control similar groups of pests.
Using Pesticides Safely
Pesticides are very common in our world today. Whether they are used in agricultural practices or in household products such as insect repellents or detergents, pesticides are very abundant. Due to the abundance it is extremely important that pesticides be used, handled, and stored safely. If pesticides are not properly used animal, public, and environmental health can all be at risk. In humans, pesticides can be skin irritants, endocrine and hormone disruptors, or serve as carcinogens. Overuse of pesticides in agriculture may result in pesticide runoff that may eventually enter water sources. To avoid pesticide pollution of water sources both surface and groundwater, both homeowners and agriculturists must be aware and understand the impacts of pesticides.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the coordinated use of pest and environmental information with available pest control methods to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment (EPA). Some common practices of integrated pest management include inspecting and monitoring crops, using mating disruption substances or natural predators.
Planning is a key step to an IPM. An IPM is a process or series of well thought out steps rather than a single action. Each step is dependent on the given situation, given pest, and physical and financial resources. IPMs are an excellent solution to managing pests while protecting the environment, human health, and water quality.
To learn more about Integrated Pest Management (IPM) click below.
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