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Chemical Control

Although chemical control is sometimes the last tactic considered, it may be the only way to quickly and effectively keep a particular pest in check. Although pesticides are valuable tools in pest management, their misuse has lead to such disadvantages as pest resistance to the pesticide, outbreaks of secondary pests, adverse effects on nontarget organisms, unwanted pesticide residues, and direct hazards to the user. Used correctly, pesticides are indispensable tools in the IPM arsenal. Remember to always read the label and labeling before purchasing and using a pesticide product. Among the important things you will learn from the label will be how to use the pesticide correctly, including the best timing for your application. Pesticides come in many formulations so be sure and pick the type that will work best for your situation and application equipment. Pay attention to signal words that indicate the toxicity level of the pesticide and wear the personal protective equipment, such as chemically resistant gloves, that is required by the label. Obtain Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs for each pesticide you use by asking the dealer or the manufacturer for them. MSDSs provide valuable detailed information about pesticide products. As older pesticide products come under closer scrutiny and chemical companies find it more difficult to reregister them with the Environmental Protection Agency, we will see different types of products introduced into the market. Most newer products will tend to be lower toxicity, more environmentally friendly and more specific in the pests they control. Some older products such as insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils are environmentally safe as well. Organic or biotanical insecticides are also popular, but these too must be applied properly and handled with care. Examples of chemical control include:

- using an herbicide to wipe out dandelions in your lawn,

- using an insecticide to control scale insects, or

- using a fungicide to control powdery mildew on dogwoods.

Some pesticides, referred to as restricted-use, can be purchased and applied only by applicators who have taken a test to become certified.

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