A pest is a destructive animal or organism that affects humans and their living conditions. Pests mostly attack food, livestock, crops and, in some cases, infest your home. Pests could be rodents, insects, or wildlife.
As a necessity, humans have come up with ways to manage pests since they can be a nuisance. .You can achieve pest control by considering the pest’s size, their biological developments, and the characteristics of the damage they cause. That brings us to our main question,
What is pest control?
Pest control is the management of pests to prevent them from developing, reproducing, or migrating. Pests are destructive; they can cause injuries or even spread diseases to humans, livestock, crops, and structures.
People control pests mainly by killing them, but there are other humane ways to deal with pests. Either way, pests are a nuisance and must be prevented from infesting or controlled after an infestation.
Environmental Conditions That Encourage Pests
Pests survive and thrive in different environments. Environmental factors affecting pests vary from humidity, temperature, moisture, and hygiene.
There are many different types of pests. The most common ones are;
- Insects include termites, beetles, aphids, roaches, termites, mosquitoes, fleas, and caterpillars.
- Arachnids – such as spiders, ticks, and mites are very common.
- Microbial organisms, for example, fungi, viruses, nematodes, mycoplasmas, and bacteria.
- Mollusks like snails and slugs.
- Weeds because they are unwanted crops. Examples are blackjack, Sodom apple, poison sumac, dandelion, etc.
- The most common vertebrate pests are rodents such as mice and rats. Other vertebrates include birds and snakes.
Managing The Most Common Pests
Here, we are going to put our focus on the pests that affect most American homes. These are mosquitos, rodents, cockroaches, flies, and bed bugs.
Mosquitoes survive in dump and dark places like water tanks, sewages, or pools. They may cause malarial infections to humans and even animals.
The best way to control mosquitoes is by destroying their breeding sites. You can also keep the mosquitoes away by locking them out using a mosquito net or mosquito repellants.
The most common rodents are rats and mice, which live in sewers, holes, drains, and rubbish tips. Rodents may pass disease-causing germs to humans and pests, which could bring about bacterial infections to humans.
Rodents also feed on stored grains and may bring about a massive loss if they infest a silo, leave alone average households.
Rodents can be controlled by having flywire doors and window screens to prevent entry, use of traps, and use poison baits. Just ensure to keep the trap out of reach of children and pests.
Cockroaches roam around food handling areas like the store or kitchen. The most common cockroach is the German cockroach found in regions with warmth, moisture, and food.
Cockroaches may carry disease-causing germs on their bodies and transfer germs to people through their interaction with foodstuffs. These germs may cause bacterial infections such as salmonellosis or viral diseases such as hepatitis A.
One can control cockroaches by keeping food in containers, cleaning shelves and cupboards regularly, keeping foodstuffs off the floor, or using insecticides.
Flies roam in dirty areas such as manure, carcasses, feces, sewages, etc. Flies come in contact with disease-carrying germs that stick on their hairy bodies, which will then be deposited the germs on things like surfaces, foodstuffs, cutlery, etc.
Humans contact these germs, which may cause both viral and bacterial diseases. The best way to control flies is to ensure no favorable conditions for breeding within the environment.
This goal is achieved by proper waste disposal, covering all foodstuff, wiping surfaces clean, and maintaining good hygiene.
Bedbugs are tiny insects that mostly embed in the bed. Bedbugs are transmitted from one place to another by attaching themselves to clothes, beddings, luggage, furniture, etc.
These insects mostly attack their victim when asleep with an itchy, irritating bite. Bedbugs are not known to spread any diseases.
Bedbugs spread quickly, and they are hard to eradicate. Luckily you can easily control bedbugs by the use of insecticides together with steam.
Pest control is classified into three main categories; prevention, suppression, and eradication.
Prevention is keeping the pests from infesting. Prevention comes when one can predict the potential pests in advance. We can achieve prevention by making predictions basing on the conditions that may favor the pests.
Suppression is the reduction of the pests’ impact to an acceptable minimum. Once someone detects the pests, proper suppression methods are applied to prevent a buildup that may cause unacceptable harm.
Eradication is the termination of the pests’ existence. Here, the entire population is wiped out. Eradication is difficult to achieve, but it is possible.
Indoor areas are easier to manage than outside areas because they are less complex. This method is mainly applied when the pests have reached the threshold levels.
A threshold level is a population where the pests can cause unacceptable levels of harm basing mainly on economic impact, health impact, and aesthetic impact.
Pest control is classified into the following categories;
Natural factors affect all living things by either hindering or helping certain organisms’ growth in certain areas. Here are some of the natural elements that affect pests:
Weather conditions in a given place directly affect the pests infesting that particular region. Humidity and temperature, for example, affect the rate of reproduction.
Adverse weather conditions could kill or inhibit the growth of pests. Weather also affects the pests indirectly by influencing the growth and development of their hosts.
For example, for pests dependent on plants, a slight variation in weather patterns could affect the pests’ spread.
2. Natural enemies
As nature demands, there must a balance in the ecosystem. Pests have their natural predators like birds, mammals, and reptiles. Pathogens also suppress the population growth of pests.
Pests must have a ‘home’ that favors their existence. Not having a place to hide from predators and harsh weather could lead to suppression and even death of the pests.
4. Geographic barriers
Landscapes, water bodies, and mountains are the main hindrance to pest migration, suppressing the pests only in specific geographical locations.
5. Food and water supply affect the pests
The shortage of water and food threatens the existence of any living organism. Without food and water, most pests will die or become inactive.
Natural or biological controls can be slow or ineffective when it comes to pest control. Therefore, other alternative methods are applied. Below are some of the used management techniques:
Biological control uses pathogens, predators, and parasites to get rid of the pests. There is the introduction of natural enemies, where there has been pest infestation, to feed on them.
Biological control may also involve increasing the number of sterile males by using juvenile hormones or pheromones. You can use a pheromone to confuse the male insects, thus preventing mating.
Juvenile hormones can keep the immature pests from growing to become reproducing ones. This method may not eliminate all the pests, but it is effective.
Chemical practices involve the use of pesticides. Pesticides work by either attracting or repelling pests. This method is the fastest and most effective when dealing with pests.
Cultural practices mainly apply in crop farming. These practices destruct the normal pest crop relationship by altering the host plant’s condition or the environment or suppressing the pests’ growth, survival, or reproduction.
Examples include crop rotation, fertilizing, thinning, pruning, cultivation, use of trap crops, etc.
Also referred to as mechanical, these practices involve the use of machines or devices. Examples of used equipment include traps, nets, fences, electricity, etc.
This equipment keeps the pests away and suppresses those already in existence in a given environment.
Proper sanitation is especially in households, helps manage the infestation of pests. Ensure there is proper garbage disposal, all foodstuffs are well covered, and utensils are well cleaned. This method is the most effective preventive pest control method.
6. Host resistance
Some plants and animals can be resistant to certain pests. This condition could be because of a particular chemical present on the host, which does not favor the pest, or the host could be more vigorous, thus not affected by the pest’s existence.
The use of resistant plants and animals can be an effective method of managing pests.
Negative Effects Of Pests
Pests are only known to cause disturbances to our day-to-day lives. Here are some of the reasons why you wouldn’t want to have pests anywhere near you.
- Pests can cause pollution. Airborne bacteria, fecal, and shed skin pollute the air we breathe in.
- Pests can act as allergen carriers, thus affecting people with certain medical conditions.
- Pests can cause diseases. Due to their interaction with dirty surfaces, some pests may be carriers of bacterial and viral infections, affecting humans and other animals.
- Compromise food. Pests can contaminate the food we consume, thus causing food poisoning.
- Destroy habitats. Some destructive pests can invade and destroy a given habitat for other animals.
Pests can be a nuisance and can cause serious health, economic and environmental harm. Therefore, pest control is necessary, and we can do it in three stages; prevention, suppression, and eradication.
The survival of pests is dependent on physical and environmental factors. Pests can easily be managed by the use of natural or applied controls. It is advisable to use preventive measures to avoid the infestation of pests.
Always use environmental-friendly ways to get rid of pests. In case of a higher number of pests infestation, always call an expert to deal with the situation.