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Man spraying pesticides

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Summer is here in full force, bringing with it much warmer weather. With the rising summer temperatures, many pests may start causing problems in gardens and landscapes. Before attempting to control with pesticides, there are a few guidelines that gardeners and homeowners must follow.

Bethany O’Rear, an Alabama Extension home grounds, gardens and home pests regional agent, said before purchasing pesticides, identification of the insect is key.

“Identifying beneficial insects versus insect pests should always occur before purchasing any pesticides,” O’Rear said. “Some insects might actually be helpful and should not be harmed.”

Read Pesticide Labels

Properly controlling garden pests all starts with reading the pesticide label for the correct recommendations.

“Read the labels thoroughly, as they contain a lot of important information,” O’Rear said. “For example, recently, some manufacturers have introduced new products with similar logos to products already on the market. These products have extremely different applications; one targets weeds in lawns, the other kills any plant it is sprayed on.”

As the example details, confusing one chemical for another could have extreme consequences. If applied incorrectly, pesticides can cause severe damage or kill a plant.

O’Rear said when choosing a pesticide, look for the following information on the label.

  • the pests it controls
  • plants and sites approved for use
  • the rate and frequency of application
  • protective equipment needed

Proper Application, Storage and Disposal

When applying the pesticide to the problem area, be careful to only target the pest and not surrounding areas, such as driveways, sidewalks or other hard surface areas.

“Pesticide runoff can infiltrate water supplies,” O’Rear said. “Be sure to only apply the amount you absolutely need to control the pest.”

When storing pesticides, make sure that you store the chemicals:

  • in the original container
  • in a cool, dry location
  • away from food and children

O’Rear said there are important steps to safely disposing of pesticide containers.

“Rinse the container out with water three times. This water should be poured onto the targeted area and not down the drain,” O’Rear said. “If the pesticide came with a sprayer, rinse it out with fresh water and apply the water to the targeted area as well.”

Note that no pesticide container should ever go into a recycling bin. Only dispose of the container in the trash.

More Information

For more information on safe and proper use of pesticides, visit www.aces.edu or contact your county Extension office.

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