Pesticide use affects the quality of human health, the environment, and nontarget organisms in the ecosystem. Therefore, any pesticide application warrants a careful assessment of the expected benefits and risks. |
Nonliving problems, are often mistakenly identified as pest problems; this frequently results in needless pesticide applications. Additionally, pesticide products are often used inappropriately when the pest problem is inaccurately identified. For example, a fungal disease is mistaken for insect damage and an insecticide is used for control. After the problem is diagnosed, information on the lifecycle of the pest, environmental conditions, and available control tactics should be used to make the best decision on how to manage the pest problem. Keep in mind that control of a pest will never be 100 percent. For each pest problem in the landscape, the grower will have to determine an acceptable level of control. Pesticides are certainly not the only means available to control pests.
Questions to consider before making a pesticide application.
* Has the problem been positively identified? Many abiotic (nonliving) plant problems are mistakenly identified as insect, mite, or disease problems. Likewise, many insect problems may be mistaken for funga or other problems and vise versa. * Have you read the pesticide label? Is the pesticide labeled for use on the pest problem and will the application of the pesticide be in compliance with the pesticide label? * Is use of a pesticide really warranted – does this pest pose a serious threat to plant health or is the problem merely a minor cosmetic problem? * What are the expected risks and benefits of a pesticide application? o How toxic is the pesticide? o How long will it retain its activity after application? o What negative effects might result from an application of the pesticide to the environment, nontarget organisms and/or humans? o Are low-risk pesticide alternatives available for control of the pest? * At what time will an application of the pesticide be most effective? * Has the best pesticide application method been identified and has application equipment been calibrated? * How can the application best be targeted to minimize product use? * If this is one in a series of applications, are repeated applications of the pesticide resulting in reduced efficacy against the target species? If so, this could indicate that resistance to the pesticide is occurring.
Good sanitation habits can go a long way toward preventing pest problems. Removing pest-infested plant debris reduces the chance for future infections. For example, raking and removing dead leaves in the fall reduces the chance for fungal disease outbreaks in the spring. This is because the overwintering fungal inoculum, which is harbored in infested leaves, is not presentto initiate new infections in the spring. Likewise, pruning out diseased portions of branches back to healthy tissue can reduce further spread of the pathogen. Good sanitation habits include:
* removing pest-infested crop debris, such as fallen leaves, blossoms, and fruit * removing annual bedding plants and crops from the garden at the end of the growing season * removing weeds * pruning dead or unthrifty branches back to white, healthy tissue (Disinfecting pruning tools with rubbing alcohol between cuts may help to prevent the spread of certain pests on pruning tools.)
Homeowners should be aware of the toxic attributes of pesticides and make an effort to minimize any negative effects on the ecosystem and human health when using pesticides. The pesticide label includes precautions, information on potential environmental risks associated with the use of the pesticide and other important product characteristics
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