If pests are invading your house or garden, you may want to do what you can to get rid of them. But you must use methods that are effective, safe for your family and pets, and respectful to other organisms. This article is about pest control, but it also discusses preventive practices, cultural practices, and other ways to manage unwanted creatures.

There are three goals of pest control: prevention – keeping pests from getting into buildings or plants; suppression – reducing the number of pests to an acceptable level; and eradication – eliminating an entire pest population. Prevention and suppression are usually accomplished through integrated pest management (IPM), which means using all available strategies to control pests without damaging the environment or putting people in harm’s way.

Preventive measures include removing sources of food Hertfordshire pest services, water and shelter for pests. These might be as simple as wiping up spills immediately, storing ripe fruit and other foods in the refrigerator, or removing rotting produce from the yard. It’s also a good idea to keep garbage cans tightly closed and remove them regularly, and to fix leaky plumbing. Clutter provides places for pests to breed and hide, so get rid of things like stacks of newspapers or magazines.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is the most environmentally friendly way to deal with pests. IPM combines preventive, mechanical, and biological controls to manage pests. It focuses on the whole pest life cycle and tries to reduce the need for chemical controls.

Pests are often more troublesome when they’re allowed to build up to high numbers. Scouting, which involves regularly searching for and identifying pests and assessing damage levels, is an important part of IPM. This information can help decide whether or when a pest needs to be controlled.

Control methods might involve sprays, baits, traps, or physical removal of the pests. When applying pesticides, always read and follow the label instructions. Never mix more pesticide than recommended on the label and use protective equipment as indicated. If you aren’t comfortable applying pesticides yourself, ask a professional for recommendations.

Biological pest control uses living organisms—often harmless ones—to kill undesirable pests, such as insects and rodents. These organisms are either natural predators or parasites of the pests, and are usually introduced into the environment to interrupt the pest’s life cycle or to kill it altogether. Biological pest control is generally safer for the environment and people than conventional chemicals.

If preventive steps aren’t enough to keep pests at bay, you may need to use more intensive control techniques. These might include physical removal or sanitization, physical barriers, and cultural practices. Physical barriers involve altering the structure of a building or plant to make it unattractive to pests. For example, netting and caulking can keep birds from nesting in a building. Cultural practices, such as mulching, weeding, and watering in the right amounts can change soil conditions to make it less attractive to pests. Choosing varieties of plants, wood, or animals that are resistant to pests can also be an important control method.