The pest control industry has long relied on chemical pesticides far more heavily than other pest control methods.
These pest control chemicals have gone a long way in solving serious pest problems and have even been key in the eradication of diseases like malaria.
But how do they work? How are they used? Let’s take a closer look.
Pest control chemicals can be divided into two main categories: those that kill pests and those that repel them.
The vast majority of pest control products on the market today are designed to kill pests, either on contact or via ingestion.
These products typically contain one or more active ingredients that are poisonous to the target pest. When applied correctly, these products can be very effective at eliminating pests.
Depending on the active ingredient used, pest control chemicals can be classified as either broad-spectrum or selective.
Broad-spectrum pesticides will kill a wide variety of pests and are often used to control pests that are difficult to identify or when the target pest is present in high numbers.
While broad-spectrum pesticides are effective, they can also kill beneficial insects like bees and ladybugs, so it’s important to use them only when absolutely necessary.
Selective pesticides, on the other hand, are designed to kill specific pests while having little to no effect on other insects.
This makes them a much safer option for use around people and pets and in areas where beneficial insects are present. They are designed to kill a specific type of pet and are often used in cases where the target pest is known, and the infestation is not widespread.
Both major types have their own set of benefits and disadvantages, and working with qualified pest control professionals can help you decide which type of pesticide is right for your specific situation.
What are the Chemicals Used for Pest Control?
Both commercial and residential pest control services use a variety of chemicals to kill or repel pests.
While there are literally thousands of different pesticides on the market, there are common ingredients that are used in many of them.
Here are some of the most common active ingredients found in pesticides:
Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids
These two natural and synthetic substances are derived from the chrysanthemum flower and are effective against a wide variety of pests, including flies, mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.
Commonly found in aerosol products like bug sprays, they are also used in agricultural and livestock applications.
This class of pesticides is commonly used to kill aphids, whiteflies, and other garden pests. They work by interfering with the nervous system of the target pest and are often used as seed treatments or soil drenches.
While they are effective, they have come under fire in recent years for their potential to harm bees and other pollinators.
You’ve probably heard about this, as it is a common ingredient in many roach and ant baits. It works by causing dehydration in the pest and can be effective against a wide variety of insects.
Boric acid works by puncturing the insect’s exoskeleton. For some pests, their ability to breathe is affected as their spiracles become plugged.
One of the primary reasons why boric acid has become popular is because it’s relatively safe and is a lesser toxic alternative to other insecticides. It is also effective against hard-to-kill pests like the German cockroach.
Boric acid is also non-toxic to humans and pets, making it a safe choice for use around people and animals.
This is another common chemical ingredient found in many commercial and home pest control products. They’re commonly known in pest control products known to target ticks and fleas but are also used for termites. This falls under the broad-spectrum insecticide category.
Fipronil works by causing neurological damage in the target pest and is effective against a wide range of insects like cockroaches, battles, ants, and silverfish.
While fipronil is considered to be relatively safe, it can be toxic to birds and aquatic life, so care must be taken when using products containing this chemical.
This is a common ingredient in many ant baits and works by causing muscle spasms and paralysis in the target pest. It is effective against a wide variety of ants and is also used in some mosquito control products.
While it is considered to be low toxicity to mammals, our pet dogs and cats included, it can be harmful to fish and other aquatic life.
A synthetic pesticide, piperonyl butoxide, is commonly used as an additive to increase the effectiveness of other pesticides.
It works by inhibiting the ability of enzymes to break down the pesticide, allowing it to remain active for longer. This is often mixed with other bug killers enhancing its effectiveness and longevity.
Chemical Pest Control and Children
There’s no denying that pest control and the use of chemicals are necessarily needed to keep our homes, families, and pets safe from pests. But, with that being said, there are some safety concerns that come along with using these products, especially when children are involved.
Pesticides can be toxic if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. Symptoms of pesticide poisoning can range from mild to severe and may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, confusion, and skin rashes. In severe cases, pesticide poisoning can lead to seizures, coma, and even death.
With that being said, when using pest control chemicals, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and take the necessary precautions to avoid any accidents or mishaps.
Safety Tips to Remember When Working With Any Pest Control Chemicals
Always Read the Label
While it sounds like common-sense and a no-brainer, it’s surprisingly shocking that many individuals don’t take the time to read and familiarize themselves with the products they’re using.
Each pesticide is different and will have its own unique set of instructions that must be followed to ensure safety. This includes information on how to properly use, store, and dispose of the container once fully consumed.
Pay Attention to Warning Signs
Just because a pest control product is available for purchase without a prescription doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone to use. Remember, these products still contain chemicals that can be harmful, so it’s important to be aware of any potential risks before using them.
If you have children or pets, always choose products that are labeled as being safe for use around them.
Twice Isn’t Always Better
Many individuals often have a common belief that using twice as much means that the product will work twice as well. But that’s not always the case when it comes to pesticides.
In fact, using more than the recommended amount can actually be dangerous and increase your chances of suffering from pesticide poisoning.
Always go back to reading the label when applying the chemicals and pesticides yourself. You’ll find specific instructions on how much product to use, depending on the size of the area that you’re treating.
Keep It Out of Reach
When ingested, these pesticides can cause serious harm, so it’s important to keep them out of reach, especially if you have small children.
The best way to do this is to store the products in a locked cupboard or shed that is not accessible to young children or animals.
Dispose of Carefully
When you’re finished using the product, make sure to dispose of any leftover chemicals properly. The label will provide specific instructions on the best way to do this.
Never Transfer Pest Control Chemicals to Another Container
Pesticides transferred in non-labeled containers can be easily mistaken for food or drinks. This could lead to accidental poisoning, so it’s important to always use the original container that the product came in.
If you must transfer the pesticide to another container, make sure to clearly label it as a pest control chemical.
What Pest Control Pesticide is Safe for Pets?
Some people call pesticides a necessary evil. Whether you like them or not, they are an important part of protecting your home from harmful pests. But, when it comes to using pesticides around pets, it’s important to be extra careful and choose a product that is safe for them.
Although some synthetic chemicals are found in some of the most popular pesticide brands and products, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all harmful to pets. Here are the top two pet-friendly pest control pesticides:
Limonene is a naturally occurring citrusy-smelling compound that can be found in the rinds of lemons and oranges.
This compound is often used as an ingredient in many household cleaners and air fresheners. It has also been known to act as an insect repellent.
We’ve talked about this before, and these are from fossilized remains of tiny algae-like creatures called diatoms. Diatomaceous earth is a food-grade powder that’s easily available in most hardware stores.
When dusted around the perimeter of your home, it works to effectively keep crawling insects out.
DE is also safe to use around pets as long as you avoid getting it in their eyes, nose, and mouth.
Chemical for Pest Control: Final Thoughts
Chemicals used in pest control vary significantly in their potential toxicity.
Although there are over-the-counter products readily available for the general public, it is strongly advised to work with a professional pest control company to ensure the safety of your home and family.