Sunday, April 3, 2016

How to Apply a Pesticide Safely

The best way to apply a pesticide safely is to READ THE LABEL prior to purchasing one! 

All too often you hear that people have had adverse effects to their plants or their person after applying a pesticide. Pesticide labels have been put in place to protect the applicator as well as the environment.

There are people out there who think that if the label calls for one ounce of pesticide to a gallon of water, it must be better to use 2 or 3 ounces per gallon of water. This is not always the case. So, what should you do to protect yourself, your landscape or vegetable garden and your neighbors when applying a pesticide? READ THE LABEL!

While working for the San Diego County Department of Agriculture, I was taught that the label was the law. There’s a variety of information on a pesticide label that will allow you to apply it in the most effective manner. The following is a list of statements, if you will, that help you to make the very best decisions when a pesticide is needed.

First, let me say that the word “pesticide” is an umbrella word that covers insect controls, weed controls, disease controls, bio controls and more. When you are looking for any sort of control for things like rabbits, moles or gophers, you are looking for some sort of “vertebrate” pest control. So the words “pest control” is used to cover a lot of different control methods (methods that will kill or control a pest to an acceptable threshold).

All proper pesticide labels should contain the following:    
The brand name, like Sevin or Roundup.
The active ingredient and the percentage of the mixture.
The weight of the product.
“Keep out of reach of children.”
 A cautionary statement (i.e. Caution, Warning or Danger).
Storage and Disposal information (information that tells you how to store and dispose of the container when empty).
Pre Harvest Interval in days (if allowed to be used of food crops).
A list of the crops and ornamental plantings that the pesticide is allowed to be applied to.
A Precautionary Statement that includes what to do if swallowed, or if on skin or clothing. A note to physicians and First Aid treatments as necessary.
 Environmental Hazards – what the pesticide is toxic to (e.g. Birds and animals).
The rate you are allowed to use on individual pests for best results. (i.e. how many ounces per gallon or how many pounds per acre).
An EPA Registration Number
An EPA Establishment Number (the number given to the establishment that produces the pesticide).

The above list is posted in a variety of ways on different products, so, make sure you read the entire label before purchasing a pesticide. This way you will know if it is the proper product you need for the pest or pests you are trying to control.

Identifying the pest that you need to control is one of the single most important piece of information you can have prior to your selection of a pesticide. Without this information, you may certainly be wasting your time and money, and potentially do harm to someone of something. You do not need an Entomology degree from some prestigious facility of higher education to identify common insect pests. Searching online these days via Google can make you a better vegetable gardener by education yourself in this area.

Ask yourself these questions before you purchase a pesticide:
1. Will the product control the pest I have?
2. Have I read and do I understand the label? Do I understand how to protect myself before, during and after application?
3. Is the pesticide usable on the plants or food crops I am trying to control the infesting pest?
4. What are the safety precautions, reentry times and harvest intervals I should follow before application, during the application, after the application and prior to harvest?
5. What do I do in case of an emergency?
And finally…
6. Have I looked at other appropriate options?

If a product or a recommendation is given to you for a mixture of different home remedies that do not come with a label, I would use extreme caution and sound judgment prior to its use. So called “Homemade Organic Mixtures” are not always the best or safest approach to pest control and often times they may do more damage, or very little control, than traditional pesticide approaches.

Traditional pest control methods may not be the best approach either. It is very important for you to do your homework, and to know that whatever you choose to use to control a pest has a label to indicate all of the things necessary for you to do to control the pest, protect yourself, protect your neighbor and to protect the environment. ALWAYS use a pesticide product according to the label. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO READ AND UNDERSTAND THE LABEL PRIOR TO PURCHASING ANY PESTICIDE PRODUCT.

Authors Note: This article was written so as to give you information ONLY. The article was written to remind readers that it is the reader’s responsibility to use a pesticide within the limits of the label. The author cannot be held responsible for unsafe actions taken by a reader of this article, who misuses a pesticide outside of the limits of a pesticide label!         

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