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10 Common Pest Control Terms

And What They Mean


As the words indicate, pest control is the control, management, or kill of any of a several types of pest, generally through the use of pesticides. But what, specifically, is considered to be a pest? And what are pesticides?

The following provides explanation of some of the most common pest control terms, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates pesticides and their use.

  1. Pest - Pests are more than just insects, mice, or nuisance wildlife. Pests can also be a weeds, fungi, bacteria and viruses. In fact, EPA defines pests as "living organisms that occur where they not wanted or that cause damage to crops or humans or other animals."

  2. Pesticide - According to the EPA, a pesticide is defined as any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Pesticides include as many types as there are pests. But some of the most common are:
    • insecticides, including products meant to repel as well as control or eliminate insects or arthropods;

    • weed killers and other herbicides intended for the control or kill of plants;

    • fungicides to kill mold, mildew, rust and other fungi;

    • fumigants are pesticides in gas or vapor form that are used to completely fill an area with pesticide in order to suffocate or otherwise kill pests within.

    • rodenticides are specifically intended for the control and kill of mice and rats.
  3. IGRs/PGRs - Insect growth regulators (IGRs) and plant growth regulators (PGRs) disrupt or alter the growth, maturing, and/or reproduction of the pest on which it is used.

  4. Repellents - as opposed to killing an insect, animal or bird, repellent pesticides are used to dissuade the pest from going into an area in which it is not wanted or can cause damage or adverse health effects.

  5. Attractants - an inactive ingredient in a pesticide or a lure placed in a trap that is used to entice the pest and thereby trap, control or kill it.

  6. Pheromones - one type of attractant that uses the natural secretions of a pest (or man-made equivalent) to evoke a specified response in that species and attract it to - or repel it from - an area.

  7. Registered Pesticide - In the U.S. all pesticides must be reviewed and approved by the EPA prior to marketing, sale or use of the product. Pesticides that meet the federal safety standards and are approved by EPA receive a license and registration number. All pesticides sold in the U.S. are required to include their registration number on the label.

  8. Restricted Use Pesticide - A class of pesticides which, by law, only certified pesticide applicators or those directly supervised by such may use or purchase. These pesticides are classified as Restricted Use because there is higher potential for damage or harm to people, animals or the environment if the product is misapplied.

  9. General Use Pesticides - These pesticides may be legally purchase and used by the general public. However " the label is the law." That is, it is illegal to use any pesticide in a manner not specified on the label.

  10. IPM - Integrated Pest Management is an approach that integrates a variety of practices, including exclusion and sanitation, for the control of pests, rather than relying on chemical application. Generally, IPM can reduce the need for pesticides.

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