The Different Types of Pest Control

Pest Control Mesquite TX is the reduction of pest numbers to levels acceptable to people and the environment. This is often achieved through prevention, suppression and/or eradication.

Rodents such as mice and rats gnaw wires causing fire hazards, damage furnishings and carry diseases including hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, leptospirosis, salmonella and lymphocytic choriomeningitis.

Whether luring flies with non-toxic vinegar traps or pheromone-infused panels that catch pantry moths, mechanical and physical controls kill pests or block them without the use of toxic chemicals. They are a key part of IPM and have been in use for centuries. These methods work by blocking pests’ access to desirable plants, preventing them from entering a site or killing them physically. From simple mouse traps to netting crops or blocking invasive plants with fences, these tactics can be cost-effective and provide immediate results that chemical solutions cannot.

Monitoring is a vital component of IPM and includes checking your fields, forests, landscapes or garden on a regular basis to look for and identify pests. It also involves assessing the damage they have caused and determining if they are at an action threshold where control is necessary. Action thresholds are levels at which pests begin to cause unacceptable injury or harm for aesthetic, health, economic or environmental reasons.

Once you have established that a pest is present and causing an acceptable amount of harm, the next step in IPM is suppression. Suppression is the ongoing process of reducing pest numbers to the point where they no longer cause unacceptable harm. This is often accomplished with a combination of control tactics, including both biological and cultural controls.

Biological controls include predators, parasites, pathogens and competitive species such as plants, nematodes, fungi and bacteria. They are usually not a form of eradication; however, when introduced at the right time and under the proper conditions, they can have an exceptional impact on pest populations.

A common method of controlling pests by cultural means is crop rotation and intercropping. This involves growing different crops in the same field on a regular schedule or planting them in alternating rows. This can reduce soil diseases, weeds and pests by disrupting the life cycle of each of them. Another cultural control is the use of mulch to reduce weeds and maintain soil moisture levels. This can also help suppress some plant diseases and fungi. In addition, changing irrigation practices can help reduce root rot and fungal disease problems.

Chemical Controls

Chemical pest control involves using chemicals to eliminate a specific type of pest. This can include fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. These can be synthetic or natural products like lime sulfur, nicotine, and horticultural oils. Because they can have a fast and immediate effect, chemical controls are able to rapidly reduce pest populations. This can be a good option for commercial and home growers. However, they require repeated applications which can lead to pesticide resistance and environmental risks. In addition, many of these chemicals can be dangerous to people’s health, especially when exposed for long periods of time or in large quantities.

Insect pests can cause significant economic losses to crops. This makes controlling them a key aspect of pest management. However, reducing pesticide use is important to improve human health and the environment. Chemical methods are still an important part of pest control, but incorporating other tactics, such as biological and cultural controls, is recommended.

Biological pest control involves the introduction of natural predators, parasites, and pathogens to limit the population of pests and their damage. These organisms can be bacteria, fungi, viruses, or insects. They may compete with pests for space or nutrients, eat them, or produce harmful substances that kill them. They may also provide beneficial effects, such as promoting plant growth and enhancing disease resistance.

A common problem with using biological pest control is that it may take a long time for the desired results to be seen. Additionally, some species of insects can build up resistance to the organisms. This can be overcome by using multiple biocontrol agents or rotating modes of action.

While chemical pest control is effective, it often disrupts the ecosystem and may be dangerous to humans and other animals. This can be a particular concern when treating homes and gardens. Chemicals can harm children and babies, causing early death and irreversible developmental problems.

Non-chemical pest control techniques focus on removing the conditions that favor pests or make them unfavorable, without using chemicals. This can include physical and mechanical methods such as traps, netting, and removing food sources. It can also involve changing growing practices, such as using mulches to reduce weeds or steaming soil for disease management.

Biological Controls

Biological controls are organisms that suppress pest populations through parasitism, herbivory or predation. This is a more natural and environmentally friendly approach to pest control than chemical sprays, which can disrupt entire ecosystems. Biological controls are also less expensive than most pesticides, but they may take longer to work as they must be introduced into the environment and become established before they can suppress pest populations.

Many common garden and greenhouse pests, such as aphids and whiteflies, are successfully controlled by parasitoids and predatory mites that can be purchased from companies specializing in biological controls. For example, the tiny wasp parasitoid Encarsia formosa is available to help suppress greenhouse whiteflies. Unlike synthetic chemicals, these organisms can be sold and used repeatedly without losing their effectiveness.

These organisms are called “natural enemies” because they occur naturally in nature and coexist with the pests they attack, usually at low levels of abundance. The goal of biological control is to maintain this natural balance in the cropping system by introducing new or augmenting existing natural enemies. This approach is often referred to as “classical” biological control. The augmentation can be done by either importing exotic natural enemies from their place of origin or encouraging them to exist in the cropping system. The latter is known as conservation biological control and can involve manipulation of the crop microclimate, creation of overwintering refuges (such as beetle banks), and providing supplemental food for the natural enemy species such as nectar or other insects.

In a more focused approach, known as “inundative” biological control, large numbers of natural enemies are introduced into the cropping system to overwhelm the pest population. Depending on the pest, this can be as few as a few thousand natural enemies or literally millions of them. The inundative approach is generally more effective than classical biological control because it can be targeted directly at the target pest.

A major problem with biological control is that the organisms involved are not a “one size fits all” solution to pest suppression. Most parasites, pathogens and predators are highly specialized and attack only one or two closely related pest species. This makes it important for growers and gardeners to be able to identify their pests and their natural enemies so that the right organism can be imported, augmented or conserved for the job. The use of resources such as the Natural Enemies Gallery and the Pest Identification Guide can help.


Integrated pest management (IPM) is a flexible, problem-solving process for managing pests that takes into account the whole environment and what is best for people and nature. It combines preventive, physical, biological and chemical control tactics to maintain pest populations below damaging levels. IPM is a sustainable alternative to “no-tolerance” policies and the overuse of pesticides.

Growers and gardeners use IPM by monitoring their crops, landscape plants or gardens regularly to determine if there are any pest problems. They keep careful records of pests and their damage and may consult a UC IPM expert for assistance. This information helps them decide if pest controls are needed. If they do, they use action threshholds to determine how much pest damage is acceptable before taking action. Action threshholds are based on a number of factors including the life cycle of the pest, its effects on the crop and weather conditions.

Preventive measures may include the selection of plant varieties that are well adapted to your climate and soil conditions, such as native grasses or drought-tolerant plants. These types of plants are less likely to be attacked by insects or diseases. Physical and biological controls such as weeding, crop rotation, tillage and the use of barriers may also be used to reduce pest numbers. Chemicals are used only as a last resort and are applied at times when their benefits outweigh the risks to people, beneficial insects and the environment.

UC IPM programs are available for any commercial or residential landscape. These programs provide cost-effective, ecologically sensitive and long-term solutions to pest problems in fields, forests, urban areas, agricultural facilities, health care settings, schools, homes, and natural or wildland areas. A good IPM program saves money over time through greater plant vigor and resistance to pests and fewer costly repairs or pesticide hazards. On the other hand, structural IPM programs often have higher up-front costs than conventional methods. These include initial investments in plant materials and equipment, as well as a short-term increase in operating costs to pay for monitoring and other preventive efforts. The longer term savings of a sound structural IPM program, however, are typically much larger than the up-front costs.