LeSS-toxIc peSt ManageMent FINdINg a compaNy that caN Prevent Pest Problems I f you have a pest problem, you may be able to solve it yourself with the help of other fact sheets in this series. However, if you want or need to DoIng your part For any pest control to work, you must do your part. If the pest control company makes recommendations about clean- up, repairs, or other steps you • Inspection — Ask how the com- pany will find out how the pests are entering, where they are hiding, what’s attracting them, and what they are eating. A less-toxic ap- proach will begin with a thorough in- spection to determine why you have hire a professional pest control should take to help prevent pest a pest problem, as well as the extent service, look for a company that problems, make sure you follow of the problem. The key to effective offers less-toxic pest control or their instructions. pest control is detailed information Integrated Pest Management about the pest. It is very difficult to control a pest if the company doesn’t (IPM) (see “For More Informa- less-toxic pest management pays for know specifically what species it is. tion” for referrals). IPM focuses itself in the long term because it treats The company should also ask you on long-term prevention of pests the underlying problem (why you have whether anyone is present in the pests); conventional controls typically and their damage through a treat just the symptoms. building, is pregnant, chemically combination of techniques such sensitive, asthmatic, elderly, and if there are any animals, or children as habitat modification, biologi- aSk Before you HIre under 1 year old, on the premises. cal control, and physical control. When you first contact a company, tell • Habitat modifications — Ask what Pesticides are used only if truly them that you are concerned about the company will do to prevent a the use of pesticides and would like necessary and are selected to be them to use only less-toxic pest control re-infestation of the pest. Since pests effective against a specific pest need food, water, and shelter to sur- methods. Some companies may try to vive, eliminating or reducing one of while minimizing risks to people, convince you that chemical sprays are these via habitat modification (for ex- pets, wildlife, beneficial insects, safe and more effective. Be persistent. ample, by caulking cracks, screening Find out to what extent a company and our environment. IPM is you’re considering uses non-chemical holes, and replacing door thresholds) a common sense preventative will reduce the pest population. approaches to pest control and how it approach and is less toxic than would approach your particular prob- • Other physical controls — Physical lem. Here’s what to look for: controls may be used to trap or kill conventional spraying. IPM the pest, not just modify its habitat. methods are based on extensive ApproAch Physical controls include vacuuming scientific research. • Ask if they are willing to do pest con- up pests or using traps or barriers. trol without sprays. Their response • Biological controls — Some compa- Save Money will help you determine their philo- nies will use other organisms, such as Studies have demonstrated that using sophical approach to pest control. beneficial nematodes or lacewings, less-toxic pest management or IPM • Discuss various methods and de- to control certain pests. saves money compared to conventional termine if the company provides • Horticultural controls — Horti- pest control. Because the initial costs less-toxic options, such as those cultural controls involve how the are typically higher, companies that discussed below. A company that landscaping is cared for. For example, haven’t adopted less-toxic approaches offers less-toxic pest control or IPM plants produce less top growth if fed may believe they cost more. However, should use conventional chemicals a slow-release or organic for only a fraction of their jobs. fertilizer — making them Choose less toxic products for your home and garden. Look for this symbol before you buy. less attractive to certain pests. Good be treated with warning signs or peStIcIDeS anD horticultural practices are important, flags — prior to the treatment and Water poLLutIon since healthy landscaping will naturally for 72 hours afterwards. Common household pesticides show up in resist or outgrow most pest damage. • Monitoring — Discuss the actions treated wastewater and in local waterways, sometimes at levels that can harm sensitive chemicAl controls the company will take if pests aquatic life. So, water pollution prevention reoccur. Monitoring is important: agencies have teamed up with participat- Less-toxic chemical controls when less-toxic pest controls are ing retail stores, pesticide distributors, and manufacturers to reduce the risks associated • Ask how the company makes used, insects will die back gradually with pesticide use. This fact sheet is part of a decisions about when, where, and series of fact sheets and store displays aimed instead of all at once as they do with at educating residents about less-toxic pest what (if any) pesticides to use. A conventional pesticides. The com- management. For the rest of the series of less-toxic pest control service will pany should place monitors around fact sheets, visit www.ourwaterourworld.org. Also, look for the “Our Water Our World” not spray routinely and, if it sprays the building and/or landscaping and logo next to products in participating stores at all, will only spray where the pest check them regularly to make sure and nurseries. See the Pesticides and Water is a problem. Chemical sprays should Pollution fact sheet for information on active the control is working and to change ingredients in common pesticides that may not be used to prevent infestations. it if necessary. cause water quality problems. • Look for a company that chooses • References — Interview several Pest control strategies and methods described less-toxic chemicals such as bo- in this publication are consistent with inte- companies. Ask for and contact grated pest management (IPM) concepts, and rates or boric acid, diatomaceous references. are based on scientific studies and tests in ac- earth (DE), insecticidal soaps, hor- • Licensing and training — Make sure tual home and garden settings. Use suggested products according to label directions and ticultural oils, and those contained the company and on-site techni- dispose of unwanted or leftover pesticides in bait stations. A capable provider cians are registered and licensed. at a household hazardous waste collection of less-toxic pest management or facility or event. For more information on • Claims — Be cautious if a company pesticide disposal, call 1-800-CLEANUP IPM will select the most effective, or visit: www.1800CLEANUP.org. No en- least toxic chemical to complete the claims it uses “safe pesticides” or dorsement of specific brand name products job and will use it only in the areas “safe chemicals.” Pesticides can be is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar products that are not mentioned. where the pests are a problem. applied safely, but no pesticide (even a less-toxic one) is entirely safe. “Odor- Conventional chemicals less” does not mean safe. Be cautious acknoWLeDgMent • Ask for copies of labels and “mate- of claims that a company can control The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District orig- “ALL insects.” If they claim to con- inally developed this IPM outreach program. rial safety data sheets” (or “MSDS”) for any pesticide a company plans trol all insects, you can be sure they are to use at your home or business. using a broad-spectrum pesticide that for More InforMatIon • Ask if the company uses chemical will kill even beneficial insects such as Bio-Integral Resource Center (BIRC) ladybugs, honeybees, and butterflies. (510) 524-2567; www.birc.org/ipc.htm pesticides only as a last resort. If the pesticide applicator is going to spray, • Contracts — Be cautious of the Landscaping look for someone who will spray se- monthly service contract. A less- Bay-Friendly Qualified Landscape Professionals lectively to reach the target pest and toxic approach should ALWAYS Trains and qualifies professional won’t spray the whole area or the include regular monitoring of pest landscapers to design, construct, and maintain landscapes using green practices. entire perimeter of the building. populations but NEVER calendar www.bayfriendly.org • Ask to see a copy of the “service applications of pesticide — whether Green Gardeners ticket” they will use. Check to make or not you have a pest problem. Do Educates local gardeners in resource efficient and pollution prevention sure the following will be on it: target not authorize any pest treatment landscape maintenance practices. pest, name of any pesticides used without reading and signing a de- See Quick Links at and their EPA registration number tailed written contract. www.OurWaterOurWorld.org (for non-food-grade products), how • Records and reporting — Ask the Buildings much pesticide was applied and company to provide you with regu- EcoWise Certified IPM Professionals lar reports, including an inspection Certifies pest management profession- where and when it was applied. als who meet stringent IPM standards. • If the company must use a chemical report with a specific pest identifi- EcoWise Certified providers use effective, cation and monitoring reports. prevention-based methods, minimizing the spray, ask it to post the areas to need to use pesticides. Offers IPM Con- tracting Toolkit. (866) 858-6386; www.ecowisecertified.org www.OurWaterOurWorld.org Paper content: 25% post-consumer waste, 50% November 2008 recycled content. Printed with soy-based ink.
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