What are pesticides?
Pesticides are chemicals designed to kill
organisms we consider undesirable. They fall into five major
rodenticides (rat- and mouse-killers)
Why should I try to limit the use of pesticides?
Although pesticides do provide some benefits, at
least initially, there are three major reasons why limiting
pesticide use is important.
Genetic resistance and killing of
natural pest enemies. After prolonged exposure
to pesticides, many pests develop resistance to the
chemicals designed to kill them. This produces a hardier
pest that will need a new, stronger dose of chemical to
kill it. Also pesticides are not usually selective
killers. That is they end up killing not only the pest
but also natural enemies of the pest. In other words you
may be killing the aphid but you are also killing the
ladybug that may have naturally controlled the aphid
population until now. Therefore you may be killing the
pest for now, but you may also be creating a bigger
problem in the future.
Mobility and threats to wildlife.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, no more
than 2% of insecticides applied to crops by aerial or
ground spraying actually make it to the target pests. The
other 98% that miss their target end up in the air,
surface water, groundwater, bottom sediments, food, and
nontarget organisms including humans. Many pesticides are
fat soluble. This means that as an organism eats another
organism pesticides build up in their fatty tissues. With
each successive step up the food chain, higher
concentrations of pesticides occur because that organism
eats more of the smaller organism and therefore biomagnifies the
Threats to human health.
The National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1993 that
the legal limits of pesticides in food may need to be
reduced 1,000 times to protect children who are more
vulnerable to such chemicals than adults because of their
lesser body weights. The National Academy of Sciences
also estimates that exposure to pesticides through food
causes 4,000 - 20,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. each
What are some alternatives?
There are many alternatives to pesticides
Some plants and animals release toxins that are naturally
harmful to pests. Chrysanthemums release a toxin known as
pyrethrin that is naturally toxic to many urban garden
pests. Planting them around a vegetable patch will help
control the pest population.
Using insect birth control-
Males of some insect pest species can be raised in the
laboratory, sterilized, and then released in affected
areas to mate unsuccessfully with healthy females thus
effectively controlling the pest population.
Using insect sex attractants- When
many female insect species are ready to mate, they
release a chemical sex attractant called a pheromone.
These pheromones can be mimicked in the lab and added to
traps to lure in the pests or used to attract the pests'
natural enemy. The Roach Motel works on this principle.
Zapping pests with hot water- Farmers
have begun using "Aqua Heat", a machine that
sprays boiling hot water on crops, to kill both weeds and
insects. They have found that both the results and the
cost is effective. You too could use this method on a
smaller scale to control problems in your garden.
Using integrated pest management
(IPM)- This method develops a pest control
program based on ecological studies and a mix of
cultivation and chemical and biological methods used in
proper sequence and timing. The aim of IPM is not
eradication of pests but rather maintaining pest
populations at just below economic impact. IPM is
becoming more popular among environmentally concerned
municipalities but is hindered by cost and the fact that
it is not as easy to use as simply applying pesticides.
You can do your part to encourage IPM in Shreveport.
|Flea Collars & Sprays
||These products are toxic and contain such
hazardous ingredients as carbamates, pyrethrins, and
||Herbal collars and ointments (Eucalyptus
or Rosemary) or Brewer's yeast in pet's diet.
|Roach & Ant Killers
||These contain organophosphates,
carbamates, and pyrethrins which make them toxic.
||Roaches: baking soda & powder sugar
Ants: chili powder to hinder entry.
|House Plant Insecticides
||These products contain such hazardous
ingredients as methoprene, malathion, tetramethrin, and
||Mixture of bar soap and water or old
dishwater. Spray on leaves, then rinse.
||The ingredients of these products include
Pyrethrins, Rotenone, and Nicotine which are toxic.
||Insecticidal soap; import predators such
as ladybugs, ground beetles, and preying mantis.