Understanding Pest Control

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Understanding pest control involves learning about prevention, suppression, and eradication. A successful integrated pest management (IPM) plan includes monitoring, scouting, and accurately identifying pests and their damage levels.

IPM plans often use biological control agents, such as predators and parasitoids, to reduce plant diseases and insect infestations. These tools require careful selection and application since legal restrictions apply.


Pest control involves preventing pests from entering your facilities and damaging products, property, or the environment. Preventive methods include cultural and physical controls. Examples of cultural pest management practices include sanitation, recycling, garbage disposal, and scheduling routine maintenance. Physical pest control excludes them from your facility by putting up barriers such as screens, caulking, and plastering. It also reduces conducive conditions such as moisture, storage practices, cleaning schedules, and recording pest sightings.

Biological pest control uses natural enemies—predators, parasites, and pathogens—to keep pest populations below damaging thresholds. These living beings could be predators like ladybug beetles, parasitoids such as flies or wasps that lay their eggs on or inside their host insects, or pathogens like nematodes that target and eliminate undesirable organisms such as weeds, plant disease-causing organisms, or others. Rotating the use of these organisms may reduce the development of pest resistance to them. It also may reduce environmental hazards by avoiding the need for chemical sprays.


Crops and structures can suffer damage from pests. They may also spread disease, disrupt water quality, or interfere with other natural processes. Pests can be plants (weeds), vertebrates (birds, rodents), invertebrates (insects, mites, nematodes, fungi), or pathogens that affect human or animal health.

Suppression is the goal of most pest control in Citrus County. It includes monitoring, identifying, and assessing pests and their damage, using preventive measures to keep them from entering or spreading, and controlling a pest population to an acceptable level.

Physical controls, such as traps, screens, barriers, fences, and radiation, are often used to suppress pests. Sometimes changing the environment can be enough to control pests, such as modifying the amount of sunlight or heat in an area or increasing air humidity.

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Pest control aims to prevent and treat infestations of rodents, birds, insects, weeds, and other organisms that damage property or pose a health risk. This involves physical trapping, killing, or removal of the pests and ‘pest-proofing’ premises to stop them from re-infesting.

Other pest control methods involve using natural enemies of the pest – parasites, predators, and pathogens. Using pheromones that attract and confuse males or that stop reproduction also falls into this category, as do techniques such as releasing sterile insect males and juvenile hormones to reduce pest numbers.

It was remembered that any pest control strategy must consider the site where the treatment occurs and all living and nonliving things that share it. Otherwise, the whole system may be disrupted, leading to continued or new pest problems. For example, spraying an area with an insecticide can disrupt the balance of the ecosystem by killing everything that moves within it.


Although legislation and strict hygiene guidance mean that most food businesses do not experience serious pest problems, they must always be vigilant. Pest control technicians must identify the pests and know their behavior to develop an appropriate pest control strategy.

For example, identifying the pest allows them to determine basic information such as its life cycle and when it is most susceptible to being controlled. It also helps them choose the best control tactics to use. For example, if they have identified that cockroaches cause the problem, they would be more likely to use bait than spray to eradicate them.

Monitoring is a vital part of IPM and can involve visual inspection, trapping, or communication with staff that uses the area. Traps may be passive, requiring the pest to come near to trigger them, or they could contain an attractant or pheromone such as the sexual attractant of female cockroaches or the pheromone of fruit fly males.

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