Pesticides sometimes are necessary to treat damaging insects and weeds in your garden. Improper usage of these products can create problems, though.
Pests can become resistant to the poison, and pollinators and other beneficial insects can be destroyed. Pesticide contact and or ingestion can be unhealthy for people and pets, too.
Before buying a pesticide, answer these questions:
1. What is the problem? Correct plant and insect identification are essential to successful control.
2. What are the control options? Evaluate your options and the need for treatment.
3. Is chemical control appropriate? Sometimes non pesticide approaches may be equally effective. In some cases, doing nothing may be the best choice.
4. Which pesticide is appropriate for the problem?
5. What is the target area? Avoid sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces where runoff can occur. Spot spray weeds rather than treating the entire lawn.
6. When should the pesticide be applied? Pesticides should be applied when they will be most effective against the pest. In many cases, pests under dormant or inactive conditions may not be susceptible to pesticide treatments.
For more detail s, see the Homeowner’s Guide To Pesticide Use Around the Home and Garden at extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/garden/xcm220.pdf
The impact of pesticide usage can be minimized by exercising caution and following these general safety practices:
• Research the type of pesticide needed for the problem.
• Choose low toxicity products.
• Read labels in their entirety, and follow instructions for application and frequency.
• Wear protective clothing such as gloves and masks.
• Consider environmental factors. Mix the pesticide outdoors in fair weather with no wind. Have absorbent material handy for spills.
• Before spraying, remove toys, tools and furniture.
• Wash up thoroughly afterwards.
• Inventory products annually and dispose of outdated products properly through the El Paso County Household Hazardous Waste Facility communityservices.elpasoco.com/environmental-division/household-hazardous-waste/
More safe use practices should be followed to protect pollinators:
• Use as little product as possible. The less used, the less harm.
• Avoid broad spectrum products. These kill pests and beneficial insects.
• Check the active ingredient toxicity. Sources for this include: catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/pnw591.pdf
• Avoid spraying flowers directly.
• Spray in the evening so there is less exposure to morning bee activity.
• Use granules if possible.
• Keep pesticides out of water features.
More information on pesticides is available on the web. The National Pesticide Information Center (npic.orst.edu/) has a wealth of free, scientific information on pesticides. Local information can be obtained by clicking on your state on the map shown on this site.
When you have questions, Colorado State University Extension has research-based answers. The Help Desk opened April 15 at 17 N. Spruce St. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Call 520-7684 or email CSUmg2@elpasoco.com.