Pest control is basically a process through which unwanted beings like insects, rats, or other wildlife are removed or completely eliminated from homes, buildings, as well as the surrounding areas. For example, you can get a product that repels mosquitoes and you can get rid of these pests yourself, or you can call a professional exterminator.
What are pests?
Before we dive more into the topic, we need to make sure that we know that pests are. Pests are usually unwanted and uninvited creatures that invade our homes and properties in search of food, water, and shelter. They are not diabolical beings as some might feel, as they are actually acting upon their natural instincts for survival.
So, let us see what creatures we can call pests. First, we have insects. Some of them are completely harmless, we just do not like having them around, but some can cause serious damage to our health. House flies are not only annoying but can also transmit diseases through their droppings and vomit they leave on food.
Mosquitoes and bed bugs feed on our blood. The trouble is that through their bites, they can also transmit certain diseases. Ticks can be very dangerous as well. They are not insects, but arachnids, but still, they also feed on blood and have the potential to make us ill.
Cockroaches are not only disgusting creatures to look at, but they also spread very quickly. And guess what? They also carry diseases. Ants, and especially fire ants, have very painful bites and can also contaminate our food.
Moving on to another category, we have rodents. Rats and mice can do serious damage to our homes. Moreover, their droppings and urine are full of harmful bacteria. These creatures, especially rats, are disease carriers and can bite if they are cornered.
Will it surprise you if we include raccoons and squirrels in this list? I mean, they are incredibly cute creatures, aren’t they? Well, they are, if you just admire them. Raccoons like to come into our homes uninvited to steal food.
However, they can become very aggressive if they feel threatened, and they can bite. Unfortunately, they can also carry various diseases and it is best to simply watch them from afar.
Squirrels will most likely run away from you, so you do not have to worry about getting bitten by these animals. However, gardeners will understand why we included them in the pests-list. They can destroy your vegetable or fruit garden.
And speaking of gardens, some birds can also be pests. Why do you think scarecrows have been invented? Crows can do serious damage to your crops.
You see, pests are not just those creatures that can bite you and spread disease. They are also those that can do any type of damage to your home, garden, or surroundings. Termites, for example, do not bite and have nothing to do with your garden. Still, they eat wood, and if your home is infested, it is very difficult and very expensive as well to get rid of them.
To make things very clear, this is just a very short list which contains some of the most common pests. We would need hundreds of pages to name them all, but we will stop here. It should be clear by now what pests are.
This is the regulation or management of certain species that are defined as pests. A pest is a member of the animal kingdom which negatively impacts human activities. Of course, the human response is proportional to the importance of the damage done.
The response can range from tolerance through deterrence, and management attempting to eliminate the pest completely. Pest control measures can be performed as a part of an integrated pest management strategy. Pest control can also be performed individually, by a single homeowner who wants to get rid of a certain pest.
In homes and urban areas, the pests are insects, rodents, birds, and other organisms which share the habitat with humans. Also, they feed on and destroy human possessions.
The control of these pests is usually attempted through repulsion, exclusion, physical removal, or chemical means. In addition, various methods of biological control can also be used. For example, there are sterilization programs for some species.
In agriculture, pests are dealt with through cultural, chemical, as well as biological means. For example, plowing and cultivation of the soil prior to sowing reduces the pest difficulty. Also, there is a modern trend to limit the use of pesticides as much as possible.
This is possible by continuously monitoring the crop, and only applying insecticides or pesticides when necessary. Also, growing various crops that are resistant to pests can also help. Biological means can also be used, where possible. This is done by introducing suitable predators or parasites that are the pests’ natural enemies.
Pest control is not a new practice. Actually, it is as old as agriculture because the need to protect the crops from pests was always there. As an interesting fact, around 3000 years Before Christ, cats were used by the ancient Egyptians to control pests from damaging their grains.
Ferrets were also domesticated by 500 AD in Europe to be used as mousers. Mongooses were used in homes to control rodents and snakes, also by the ancient Egyptians; or so it is believed.
Humans have always had the need to protect their means of survival, and pest control has been one of the methods. Of course, today, in modern society, we use innovative methods to control pests, but the concept is not new at all.
Pest control methods
Biological pest control is probably the best method because it does not involve any chemical or toxic compounds that might harm the crops or the environment. Unfortunately, it is not always possible. This method is used to control certain pests by using other organisms.
This type of control relies on parasitism, predation, herbivory, or other mechanisms. However, it usually involves an active human management role. The classical biological control includes the introduction of natural enemies of the pest which are bred in the laboratory and then released into the environment.
There is also an alternative approach, and that is to increase the number of natural enemies that live in a certain area by delivering more in a single large-scale release, or in small, repeated batches.
Physical pest control means trapping and/or killing pests like insects and rodents. In the past, local people or paid rat-catchers used to catch and kill a rodent with the help of dogs and traps. In a home, sticky fly papers can be used to trap flies. When it comes to larger structures, other means are used such as pheromones, ultraviolet lights, or synthetic volatile chemicals.
These attract insects toward various types of traps. Glue boards are also being used to monitor cockroaches and catch rodents. The last category can also be baited using spring traps. This way, they can be relocated without being harmed.
Talcum powder is also utilized to establish routes of the rodents inside buildings, while acoustic devices are used to detect beetles in structural timbers.
On airfields, birds are a significant hazard. However, it is difficult to keep them away from these areas. A few methods to control birds have been explored. One of them was by stunning them through a bait which contains stupefying elements that were fed to them.
Another possibility is to reduce the number of earthworms and other invertebrates that can attract birds toward airfields. This can be done by specific soil treatment. Another bird-deterrent is leaving the grass long in these areas, rather than mowing it. Sonic nets have also been tried. They produce sounds which birds find distracting. This method is quite effective as well, since it seems to keep birds away.
These are only a few methods used to control various pests. As you might have gathered, the method depends very much on the pest that needs to be dealt with. It also depends on the environment and on the available resources.
Pests need to be controlled because some of them can pose a serious risk on our health. Others destroy crops which means less food, more expensive food, and huge losses for farmers. Pest control can be performed by professionals, or even by the person who has to deal with the unwanted creatures. It really depends on the situation.