Pest control is the activity of eliminating pests, including rodents, birds, insects and other organisms that damage or spoil property. It can be achieved through exclusion, quarantine, repulsion, physical removal or chemical means. Biological control, using sterilisation programmes to modify the genetic makeup of the population, is also sometimes used.
The best way to reduce pest problems is through preventive measures. These include keeping food in sealed containers, removing rubbish regularly and fixing leaky plumbing. It is also advisable to remove sources of food, water and shelter for pests, such as putting out bird seed only in rodent-proof dispensers and regularly trimming the plants around your home.
If you do decide to employ a Pest Control service, it is important that the company have sufficient experience and be fully licensed to apply treatments in your home. The company should be able to offer you a thorough pest inspection and analysis and be able to outline a recommended control program. The program should include: a.) the pests to be controlled, b.) the extent of the problem, c.) the active ingredient(s) in the pesticide chosen, d.) any potential adverse health effects associated with the pesticide, e.) the form of the pesticide and application techniques, f.) special instructions to reduce your exposure to the pesticide (including vacating the premises, emptying cupboards and removing pets), g.) steps to minimise your use of pesticides in the future, h.) any other measures you may wish to take to minimize the problem, i.) any costs involved in the pest control programme and j.) whether the pesticide to be used is registered for use in your area.
Some pests, such as ants, termites, cockroaches and fleas require regular control to keep populations under control. Others are sporadic and only need control occasionally or intermittently, depending on conditions.
Pesticides can be very effective and safe when applied correctly. However, if the pesticide is not labelled for use in your area or is misused, it can be toxic to humans and pets or damaging to the environment. Many pesticides are designed to be non-toxic to mammals, but even these can cause health problems if the dosage is high or the pesticide is applied incorrectly.
It is also possible for pesticides to fail to control a pest because the insect or other organism has become resistant to the chemicals. Other causes of failure include the wrong pesticide being applied, the application being too late or too early, or the pest being in a life stage or location where it is not susceptible to the pesticide. The last point is particularly relevant where baits or traps are being used to control pests. The baits or traps must be correctly placed and regularly checked, and the traps or trays must be cleaned out to ensure they are not attracting other unwanted pests. The use of pesticides should always be considered as a last resort.