Any product labeled to kill a plant, animal, insect, or fungus is considered a pesticide including herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides.
Pesticides are used in almost every garden. Some are botanical, some chemical. Even the best garden experiences problems. Knowing what to do and doing it quickly can avert garden heartache. Pests come in a variety of forms: weeds, insects, animals, molds, and fungi to name a few. The need to control outdoor pests varies. Having some weeds in your garden or some grubs in your lawn may be tolerable. However, certain pests present serious threats in some years. Some pests can damage human and animal health, such as mosquitoes that carry diseases.
Fungicides kill or prevent the growth of fungi and their spores. They are used to control fungi that damage plants, including rusts, mildews and blights.
Pesticide Safety can most easily be practiced by first reading and understanding the product label – for detailed information such as active ingredient, list of target pests, application rates, first aid instructions, and disposal requirements. All the information needed to properly and effectively use the product, is on the label. When in doubt about anything regarding the product – read the label!
What are the Dangers of using Pesticides?
Most of the danger involved with using pesticides exists in the handling and mixing stages. Many pesticide manufacturers have reduced the dangers by providing pre-mixed solutions in usable containers so contact with the pesticide is limited. Commercial grade pesticides are often in concentrated form requiring mixing with water and distribution through a sprayer (read the label for mixing and handling carefully!)
Pesticides should be stored and handled with care – stored securely and free from leaks or tears. Never re-use pesticide containers – Dispose of empty containers in the correct way! Always take care when transferring pesticides from containers to sprayers or spreaders. Spills are difficult to properly clean up and can contaminate the environment.
Improper mixing is also an inherent danger of using pesticides. When diluting with water is required it is of the utmost importance to correctly follow the instructions on the label. Dangers are also present when applying pesticides. Careless use of pesticides can cause dusts and mists to come in contact with non-target organisms. Always be aware of your surroundings when applying pesticides and do not apply in windy conditions. One of the biggest errors when using pesticides is applying the product in windy conditions and drifting onto non-target organisms. This can lead to unintended dead plants or accidental exposure to pets, children or other unintended targets.