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Pest control is the regulation or management of a species defined as a pest ; any animal, plant or fungus that impacts adversely on human activities or environment. Pest control measures may be performed as part of an integrated pest management strategy.
In agriculture, pests are kept at bay by mechanical , cultural , chemical and biological means. Concern about environment means limiting the use of pesticides in favour of other methods. This can be achieved by monitoring the crop, only applying pesticides when necessary, and by growing varieties and crops which are resistant to pests.
Where possible, biological means are used, encouraging the natural enemies of the pests and introducing suitable predators or parasites. Control of these pests is attempted through exclusion or quarantine , repulsion, physical removal or chemical means. Pest control is at least as old as agriculture , as there has always been a need to keep crops free from pests. As long ago as BC in Egypt, cats were used to control pests of grain stores such as rodents.
Mongooses were introduced into homes to control rodents and snakes, probably by the ancient Egyptians. The conventional approach was probably the first to be employed, since it is comparatively easy to destroy weeds by burning them or ploughing them under, and to kill larger competing herbivores.
Techniques such as crop rotation , companion planting also known as intercropping or mixed cropping , and the selective breeding of pest-resistant cultivars have a long history. Chemical pesticides were first used around BC, when the Sumerians used sulphur compounds as insecticides. After much discussion, arsenical compounds were used to control the beetle and the predicted poisoning of the human population did not occur.
This led the way to a widespread acceptance of insecticides across the continent. In the 20th century, the discovery of several synthetic insecticides , such as DDT , and herbicides boosted this development.
Biological control is first recorded around AD in China, when colonies of weaver ants, Oecophylla smaragdina , were intentionally placed in citrus plantations to control beetles and caterpillars.
In , an Indian mynah was brought to Mauritius to control locusts, and about the same time, citrus trees in Burma were connected by bamboos to allow ants to pass between them and help control caterpillars. In the s, ladybirds were used in citrus plantations in California to control scale insects , and other biological control experiments followed. The introduction of DDT, a cheap and effective compound, put an effective stop to biological control experiments.
By the s, problems of resistance to chemicals and damage to the environment began to emerge, and biological control had a renaissance. Chemical pest control is still the predominant type of pest control today, although a renewed interest in traditional and biological pest control developed towards the end of the 20th century and continues to this day.
Biological pest control is a method of controlling pests such as insects and mites by using other organisms. Classical biological control involves the introduction of natural enemies of the pest that are bred in the laboratory and released into the environment.
An alternative approach is to augment the natural enemies that occur in a particular area by releasing more, either in small, repeated batches, or in a single large-scale release.
Ideally, the released organism will breed and survive, and provide long-term control. For example: mosquitoes are often controlled by putting Bt Bacillus thuringiensis ssp. Mechanical pest control is the use of hands-on techniques as well as simple equipment and devices, that provides a protective barrier between plants and insects.
This is referred to as tillage and is one of the oldest methods of weed control as well as being useful for pest control; wireworms, the larvae of the common click beetle , are very destructive pests of newly ploughed grassland, and repeated cultivation exposes them to the birds and other predators that feed on them. Crop rotation can help to control pests by depriving them of their host plants. A trap crop is a crop of a plant that attracts pests, diverting them from nearby crops.
Pesticides are applied to crops by agricultural aircraft , tractor-mounted crop sprayers , aerial spray by modern aircraft or as seed dressings to control pests. However, successful control by pesticides is not easy; the right formulation must be chosen, the timing is often critical, the method of application is important, adequate coverage and retention on the crop are necessary.
The killing of natural enemies of the target pest should be minimized. This is particularly important in countries where there are natural reservoirs of pests and their enemies in the countryside surrounding plantation crops, and these co-exist in a delicate balance. Often in less-developed countries, the crops are well adapted to the local situation and no pesticides are needed.
Where progressive farmers are using fertilizers to grow improved crop varieties, these are often more susceptible to pest damage, but the indiscriminate application of pesticides may be detrimental in the longer term. The efficacy of chemical pesticides tends to diminish over time. This is because any organism that manages to survive the initial application will pass on its genes to its offspring and a resistant strain will be developed.
In this way, some of the most serious pests have developed resistance and are no longer killed by pesticides that used to kill their ancestors.
This necessitates higher concentrations of chemical, more frequent applications and a movement to more expensive formulations. Pesticides are formulated to kill pests, but many have detrimental effects on non-target species; of particular concern is the damage done to honey-bees , solitary bees and other pollinating insects and in this regard, the time of day when the spray is applied can be important. Pest control can also be achieved via culling the pest animals — generally small- to medium-sized wild or feral mammals or birds that inhabit the ecological niches near farms , pastures or other human settlements — by employing human hunters or trappers to physically track down, kill and remove them from the area.
The culled animals, known as vermin , may be targeted because they are deemed harmful to agricultural crops, livestock or facilities; serve as hosts or vectors that transmit pathogens across species or to humans ; or for population control as a mean of protecting other vulnerable species and ecosystems.
Pest control via hunting, like all forms of harvest, has imposed an artificial selective pressure on the organisms being targeted.
While varmint hunting is potentially selecting for desired behavioural and demographic changes e. Forest pests present a significant problem because it is not easy to access the canopy and monitor pest populations. In addition, forestry pests such as bark beetles, kept under control by natural enemies in their native range, may be transported large distances in cut timber to places where they have no natural predators, enabling them to cause extensive economic damage.
These release volatile chemicals that attract males. Pheromone traps can detect the arrival of pests or alert foresters to outbreaks. For example, the spruce budworm , a destructive pest of spruce and balsam fir , has been monitored using pheromone traps in Canadian forests for several decades.
Many unwelcome animals visit or make their home in residential buildings, industrial sites and urban areas. Some contaminate foodstuffs, damage structural timbers, chew through fabrics or infest stored dry goods. Some inflict great economic loss, others carry diseases or cause fire hazards, and some are just a nuisance.
Control of these pests has been attempted by improving sanitation and garbage control, modifying the habitat, and using repellents , growth regulators, traps, baits and pesticides. Physical pest control involves trapping or killing pests such as insects and rodents. Historically, local people or paid rat-catchers caught and killed rodents using dogs and traps. In larger buildings, insects may be trapped using such means as pheromones , synthetic volatile chemicals or ultraviolet light to attract the insects; some have a sticky base or an electrically charged grid to kill them.
Glueboards are sometimes used for monitoring cockroaches and to catch rodents. Rodents can be killed by suitably baited spring traps and can be caught in cage traps for relocation. Talcum powder or \”tracking powder\” can be used to establish routes used by rodents inside buildings and acoustic devices can be used for detecting beetles in structural timbers. Historically, firearms have been one of the primary methods used for pest control.
Garden Guns are short-range weapons that can do little harm past 15 to 20 yards, and they\’re relatively quiet when fired with snake shot, compared to standard ammunition. These guns are especially effective inside of barns and sheds, as the snake shot will not shoot holes in the roof or walls, or more importantly, injure livestock with a ricochet. They are also used for pest control at airports , warehouses , stockyards , etc.
The most common shot cartridge is. At a distance of about 10 ft 3. Special smoothbore shotguns, such as the Marlin Model 25MG can produce effective patterns out to 15 or 20 yards using. Poisoned bait is a common method for controlling rats, mice, birds, slugs, snails, ants, cockroaches, and other pests.
The basic granules, or other formulation, contains a food attractant for the target species and a suitable poison. For ants, a slow-acting toxin is needed so that the workers have time to carry the substance back to the colony, and for flies, a quick-acting substance to prevent further egg-laying and nuisance.
An article in Scientific American in described effective elimination of a cockroach infestation using fresh cucumber peels. Warfarin has traditionally been used to kill rodents, but many populations have developed resistance to this anticoagulant , and difenacoum may be substituted.
These are cumulative poisons, requiring bait stations to be topped up regularly. Fumigation is the treatment of a structure to kill pests such as wood-boring beetles by sealing it or surrounding it with an airtight cover such as a tent, and fogging with liquid insecticide for an extended period, typically of 24—72 hours. This is costly and inconvenient as the structure cannot be used during the treatment, but it targets all life stages of pests.
An alternative, space treatment, is fogging or misting to disperse a liquid insecticide in the atmosphere within a building without evacuation or airtight sealing, allowing most work within the building to continue, at the cost of reduced penetration. Contact insecticides are generally used to minimize long-lasting residual effects. Populations of pest insects can sometimes be dramatically reduced by the release of sterile individuals.
This involves the mass rearing of a pest, sterilising it by means of X-rays or some other means, and releasing it into a wild population. It is particularly useful where a female only mates once and where the insect does not disperse widely. Laboratory studies conducted with U 3-chloro-1,2-propanediol were attempted in the early s for rat control, although these proved unsuccessful. Boron , a known pesticide can be impregnated into the paper fibers of cellulose insulation at certain levels to achieve a mechanical kill factor for self-grooming insects such as ants, cockroaches, termites, and more.
The addition of insulation into the attic and walls of a structure can provide control of common pests in addition to known insulation benefits such a robust thermal envelope and acoustic noise-canceling properties. The EPA regulates this type of general-use pesticide within the United States allowing it to only be sold and installed by licensed pest management professionals as part of an integrated pest management program.
The dosage and method must be carefully controlled and monitored. Rodent control is vital in cities. Several wildlife rehabilitation organizations encourage natural form of rodent control through exclusion and predator support and preventing secondary poisoning altogether. Balsam fir oil from the tree Abies balsamea is an EPA approved non-toxic rodent repellent.
Insect pests including the Mediterranean flour moth , the Indian mealmoth , the cigarette beetle , the drugstore beetle , the confused flour beetle , the red flour beetle , the merchant grain beetle , the sawtoothed grain beetle , the wheat weevil , the maize weevil and the rice weevil infest stored dry foods such as flour, cereals and pasta.
In the home, foodstuffs found to be infested are usually discarded, and storing such products in sealed containers should prevent the problem from reoccurring. The eggs of these insects are likely to go unnoticed, with the larvae being the destructive life stage, and the adult the most noticeable stage. The larvae of clothes moths mainly Tineola bisselliella and Tinea pellionella feed on fabrics and carpets, particularly those that are stored or soiled.
The adult females lay batches of eggs on natural fibres, including wool, silk, and fur, as well as cotton and linen in blends. The developing larvae spin protective webbing and chew into the fabric, creating holes and specks of excrement. Damage is often concentrated in concealed locations, under collars and near seams of clothing, in folds and crevices in upholstery and round the edges of carpets as well as under furniture.
Carpet beetles are members of the family Dermestidae , and while the adult beetles feed on nectar and pollen , the larvae are destructive pests in homes, warehouses, and museums. They feed on animal products including wool, silk, leather, fur, the bristles of hair brushes, pet hair, feathers, and museum specimens.
They tend to infest hidden locations and may feed on larger areas of fabrics than do clothes moths, leaving behind specks of excrement and brown, hollow, bristly-looking cast skins.
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