The question of if pest control actually works is quite broad. There are many types of pest control ranging from pesticides and traps to biological control. There are also a wide variety of pests that each require their own set of control methods to be effective.
In general using the right pest control method for a given situation will cause a noticeable decline on a pest’s ability to reproduce and live in an environment. Over time control methods will lose effectiveness as pests adapt. Treating pests with control methods meant for other species will result in a lower effectiveness if any at all.
Pest control can definitively work for you if research and planning goes into the application of the treatment. Whether you choose to apply control methods yourself or hire a pest control company, it is important to understand the basic safety principles and best practices of pest control.
The rest of the article will go over the most common types of pest control, an explanation of what they are and their effectiveness when properly applied. If you are interested in how effective pest control companies are, we have a whole article exploring that which can be found here and is also linked at the end of this article.
Types of Pest Control and Their Effectiveness
The motivation to find the most effective pest control method is greatly driven by commercial agriculture. Here just small degrees of effectiveness can result in substantial monetary loses or gains for companies. From advancements discovered there the best methods can be taken and applied to everyday pest control scenarios.
The effectiveness of a pest control method depends on how the pests react to what is occurring. Employing a highly effective pest control solution takes experience and a knowledge of the pests behavior. It is very difficult to completely eradicate a given pest because they quickly adapt to solutions.
The four categories of pest control explored here are biological, cultural, trapping, and pesticide solutions. If you are not involved in agriculture the use of traps and pesticides is what you will probably use to help control outbreaks.
Biological pest control is a method of pest management that involves introducing another organism to the infected environment. The new organisms are natural enemies of the original pest and will work to eliminate its population. In an ideal situation the new organism will thrive in the new environment, reproduce and create a control mechanism that lasts into the future.
An example of biological pest control is the use of ladybugs to help combat aphids (small bugs that live on the sap of plants). Lady bugs and their larvae especially are natural predators of any aphid. In this example ladybugs help to protect crops and improve the profitability of a harvest. They do not create a new threat to the existing environment either if their population remains stable.
Biological pest control varies in effectiveness. The effectiveness is dependent on the new species ability to adapt with changes in the environment and continue to reproduce. If the new organism introduced dies off, then original pest is likely to come back.
Biological pest control is a favorable method of controlling pests because no chemicals are required and it is often a cheaper alternative to pesticides. Sometimes the new species introduced ends up being a predator to other organisms in the environment and decreasing their population. This results in the “pest control” becoming a pest. It is a slower method of control relying on the reproduction of organisms to be effective.
Cultural Pest Control
Cultural pest control is a simple idea for control which entails manipulating the environment to prevent pests from spreading and reproducing. Usually by way of creative landscaping, and planting crops in a way to manage the risk of pests in the area.
An example of this method is creating a large pile of wood on the perimeter of a farm. This will draw certain pests to to the wood and off of the crops. Once a large amount of pests are drawn to the wood they still need to be treated and this would usually be done with pesticides. The use of pesticides creates a problem as inevitably some of the pests will make their way back onto the farm.
Another example of cultural pest control is referred to as phenological asynchrony. In this method of control farmers will attempt to grow their crops when pests are less likely to be around. By doing this the likelihood pests can thrive off of crops if greatly decreased.
Cultural pest control can help prevent pest accumulation but is not a good strategy to use once pests have already arrived. This method takes planning and knowledge of pest behavior to achieve a moderate effectiveness depending on the pest being treated.
The use of traps for pest control is a widely used and favorable method because of their re-usability and low toxicity. If the problem does not prevent an immediate danger and is rather a nuisance trapping is a good option.
Traps work to gather pests at a central location and keep them from leaving. They can work to either release the pests or kill them. Sometimes baits will be used in traps and can introduce a level of toxicity.
Adhesive traps are a common non toxic trap. A large sticky sheet/platform is placed in an area of high pest activity. Upon encountering pests are stuck in place until expired or freed. This trap strategy works great combating pests that move around a lot on the ground such as mice, centipedes, lizards etc.
If you are in search of how to trap a specific type of pest there is more than likely an existing strategy on the internet. Many people have come up with their own DIY traps with varying degrees of success. They are commonly used for annoyances such as stink bugs, spiders, mice, and wasps.
Trapping solutions will work great at lowering the population of an existing pest but will not completely eradicate them.
Pesticides and Chemical Pest Control
Use of pesticides and chemicals to control pests is probably the most widespread, simple and effective method of control. As a result of these ease of use of pesticides the side effects tend to be pushed to the side. If you are to pursue this method on control carefully reading the ingredients list on a given pesticide is a must.
Pesticides are highly effective when the right solution is used. It can be difficult to pick the right solution balancing toxicity, time of year, interaction with other species and the actual pests that are causing the problem. Over time chemical pest control becomes less effective as the pests evolve.
As current pests die the immune are left behind creating a type of super pest. Potato bugs are a prime example of this having evolved to be immune to over 50 pesticides. Pest control is an ever changing game of cat and mouse as both sides advance in sophistication.
Residential application of strong pest control requires licensed applicators. Depending on the method the effectiveness will vary. Take for example a termite treatment and the use of a localized control solution. In this treatment you or the applicator will look for all the areas where termites are and only apply the pesticide there. If any spot is missed the remaining termites can restart the colony.
Compared to a chemical fumigation with Vikane gas the localized application will be a clear loser. Vikane gas can reach all the termites without knowledge of their location. In all scenarios effectiveness with vary by how adequate the solution is.
Do Pest Control Companies Really Work?
If you think employing these pest control methods is too much for you and are wondering if pest control companies can do it for you it’s your lucky day! We have a whole article found here detailing what to look out for when dealing with pest control companies and their overall effectiveness.