What Is Pest Control?

Pest control is the activity of controlling pests, which are unwanted organisms that damage or interfere with desirable plants in fields, orchards, and gardens; destroy or spoil buildings, structures, and landscapes; contaminate food; or cause nuisance or disease in humans or animals. In homes and urban environments, pests include rodents (rats and mice), insects (flies, ants, cockroaches, bees, fleas, ticks, and wasps), weeds, plant pathogens bacteria and viruses, nematodes, and other organisms that impact health or destroy property.

Pests can be controlled through exclusion, quarantine, repulsion, physical removal, and/or chemical means. Pesticides are a necessary part of any pest management strategy, but they should be used sparingly, carefully, and only when other methods have failed or are impractical. The goal of any Pest Control method is to achieve and maintain a balance between the pest population and the desired amount of production in the field or garden.

Maintaining a pest-free environment is an ongoing responsibility for homeowners, gardeners, farmers, and other property owners. Pests can cause significant financial losses from crop loss or contamination, structural damage, and other costs. Regular pest maintenance programs can prevent these problems and save time, money, and energy.

A common misconception about pest control is that it involves the use of dangerous chemicals. This could not be further from the truth. Pest control professionals are trained to understand how different pests enter a home or business and what attracts them there. They then provide recommendations for keeping pests away through sanitation, landscaping, and other techniques before resorting to chemicals.

In addition, pest control professionals are trained to select the most effective and least-toxic control products available. This helps to ensure that pesticides are used sparingly and that only the target organism is removed, minimizing risks to human health, beneficial organisms, and the environment. To find information about least-toxic products and strategies for specific pests, see the UC Pest Notes series available at UC Cooperative Extension offices and on the UC Statewide IPM Program Web site.

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from pests is to maintain a good relationship with your local pest control company. They can inspect your building and yard to identify how pests get in and recommend preventative measures, such as caulking or screens, to keep them out. They can also detect problems before they become serious, such as when a mouse chews on electrical wires or termites eat at your attic insulation.

Pests can cause major problems in businesses and commercial facilities as well. They can contaminate foodstuffs, lead to loss of inventory, or even shut down operations. They can also contribute to high utility bills by damaging insulation and causing structural damage. Pest control programs can help prevent these problems, saving valuable resources and protecting reputations.