Pests need to be controlled in order to reduce harmful effects they might cause such as diseases or nasty, itchy bites. In our latest article, we described some of the best methods to repel mosquitoes. Of course, these insects are not the only pests you need to worry about, but we will get to that later.
There are pests we call just that because we do not like having them around, and there are those that can cause real harm and it is best we avoid them. Some insects, rodents, and other wildlife can cause real damage or spread dangerous diseases to humans and pets.
Pest control can help us reduce both pesky pets and harmful ones. However, it is the second group we should really worry about. Pests can be classified into two categories.
For starters, we have the pesky pests such as stink bugs which are very annoying, spiders, except the species that are poisonous, and earwigs, that do not get into peoples’ ears. We would like to elaborate more on the second category. The list below contains some of the most common pests.
Rats and mice do not only cause notable damage with their nesting and gnawing, but their droppings and urine can spread various diseases. Also, their numbers grow very fast, and this increases the damage as well as the potential for disease.
In the last couple of decades, bed bugs have reinvaded the United States after being almost extinct. They are biting more and more sleeping adults and children in their homes, hotels, and other places.
Through their bites, mosquitoes and ticks do not only causes irritation, but their feeding on our blood can transmit serious diseases. These conditions depend on the species of the mosquito, for example, and the area of their habitat. Unfortunately, there are many species that carry dangerous illnesses.
Termites are not that dangerous for our health, but they cause over a billion dollars in damage every year, in the United States alone. Also, they are very hard and expensive to get rid of. There are even jokes made about them.
They say that if your house is infested by termites, you can only get rid of them by burning the house down. We bet it’s no joke for people who are in this situation.
Cockroaches are known to contaminate food and spread the Salmonellosis food-borne disease. Their tendency to find shelter behind walls and other hidden areas during the day and only appear at night to seek food and water makes them harder to catch.
Because of this, they are also very hard to be seen, until their population grows to incredible numbers. Their potential for harm is very significant.
Although they are really annoying pests, house flies can also transmit E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Vibrio through their feces and the vomit they regurgitate in order to digest their food. And we all know how much they like to lurk around our food, which is not only unpleasant to see but it can also become dangerous.
Ants, and especially fire ants are known for their killer bites. Small ants can get into food in homes and contaminate it.
Does it surprise you to find raccoons on this list? They are adorable fluffy creatures to look at, right? Actually, you should know that they can be very aggressive if approached. They often seek shelter in attics where they also breed. They will bite if they feel threatened, and they can also spread disease. If you like them, it is best to admire these animals from afar.
It would take hundreds of pages to list all the pests that reside in the United States and the world. This is just a small sampling, but it should be enough to give you an idea about why pest control is so important.
We also need to mention that there are thousands of insects and wildlife animals that live outdoors and do not have a tendency to invade our homes or damage our yards. Most of them do not even pose any risk to humans.
Why do pests need to be controlled?
A part of the answer to this question has already been mentioned. You see, just like us, insects, rodents, and other wildlife have basic survival requirements of water, food, and shelter. The reason why they become pests is that they invade our homes and our properties in order to fulfill these needs.
Moreover, as they forage for food, water, or shelter, they can also contaminate our food or even use our blood as food sources, infecting us with various diseases. Pest control can remove, reduce, or completely eliminate insects, rodents, or wildlife that have become pests.
The process can be natural and non-toxic, or it can involve pesticides, herbicides, or fumigants, depending on the situation and the nature of the invasion. Homeowners often purchase products at retail, home, and garden goods stores. Sometimes, professional expertise is required in order to control certain pests.
Other reasons for pest control
When we talk about pest control, probably the first thing that comes to mind is what we already discussed. Pests need to be controlled because they invade our homes and can spread various diseases, some of which can be life-threatening. However, there is another aspect that is just as important to mention.
Let’s put it this way: everybody has to eat in order to survive. Ever since it was invented, agriculture has always been the cornerstone of civilization. Due to the rapid increase in the number of populations in the world, by 2100 we will need to be a lot better at agriculture. By the above-mentioned year, we are probably going to be 11 billion people.
The bad news is that agriculture can be very inefficient. For every 100 pounds of food which could be harvested, only around 30 pounds is actually used by consumers. A part of it is waste, but more is pest damage.
For an agricultural scientist, this is the main challenge. Without any supplementary increases in efficiency between the field and the table, we would have to increase the amount of land that is used for agriculture by 30% or by 136 million acres. Our greatest competitor for food and shelter are insects.
These creatures attack food products at different points in the production chain. The examples which come to mind first are those who attack plants in the field. There are also those who consume food while it is being stored.
To be clearer, pest and disease losses in the field are in the range of 20 to 40% depending on the type of the crop. Then, in storage, 10 to 15% of the crop can also be lost to pests, while the value of the harvest can drop by 50% because of the loss of quality.
At the same time, complete losses of some crops are not uncommon either. Insect infestation does not only decrease the quality of the crops but it also encourages the growth of mold which produces aflatoxins.
Therefore, the losses due to infestation can lead to even larger damages. If the secondary problem sounds like a minor thing, you should know that aflatoxins are among the most carcinogenic elements known. That is why this is one of the most important and persistent public health challenges.
Consequences of not controlling pests
So, what is the direct consequence of insects infesting crops? Actually, there are multiple consequences. First of all, the thing you might notice immediately, but do not know why is the increase in the price of certain fruits or vegetables. Farmers need to recover some of their losses with an increase in the price of the end product.
Unfortunately, there are also farmers who cannot recover their losses due to their crops becoming unmarketable. Export is also affected. If there are issues with a certain type of crop, other countries might not accept to buy any of the affected foods.
This is somewhat a vicious circle that affects us all from an economic point of view. Farmers lose millions, and we get to pay much more for certain products. Leaving the economic aspect aside, crop infestation also means less food for people.
As mentioned earlier, the population of this world keeps growing in numbers, and we need all the food we can get. Losing around 70% of the crops to insects can become a fatal percentage.
For this reason, pest control has a vital role. Pests need to be controlled not just because they are dangerous to our health, but also because they are destroying the world’s food resources.