Pest Control

Pest Control for Apartment Dwellers: Tips for Shared Spaces

Pest Control Ballwin MO is the process of eliminating or reducing pests and their damage. Methods include prevention, suppression and eradication.

Preventing pests includes maintaining a clean home and regularly cleaning dark, damp areas where they like to hide. It also includes fixing cracks in walls and doors and storing food and garbage in airtight containers.

Accurate pest identification is the first step in a pest management program. This step involves determining which species is present, their biology, and their life cycle. This knowledge is critical to establishing an integrated pest management (IPM) plan that reduces or eliminates pest problems without the use of harmful chemicals. It also helps determine whether a problem is really caused by a pest and not environmental or cultural conditions that can’t be remedied with pesticides.

Pests vary in their behavior and life cycles, and control tactics must be adjusted accordingly. Incorrect identification can lead to improper chemical treatments that are ineffective or even worse, cause unnecessary harm to people or the environment. For example, if a weed seedling is mistaken for a caterpillar or worm, it may be treated with insecticides that will not affect the actual target pest, resulting in an ineffective treatment and additional waste of resources.

To help identify pests, it is important to sample for them on a regular basis, such as every week during the pests’ most active season. The most useful samples will be those taken from locations where the pests are known to occur. Sampling should focus on the most likely areas of occurrence, such as under leaves, inside fruits, in soil, or nests. Samples should be inspected for pest damage and their signs, such as feeding indicators or discoloration of hosts.

It is also helpful to familiarize yourself with the different life cycles of the pests you are monitoring. Many pests have “windows of opportunity” during their life cycles when they are most susceptible to being controlled, such as in immature forms or early stages of development. In addition, the specific habitat and food preferences of each pest can influence its response to various management strategies.

A good way to learn more about a particular pest is to visit an online or printed resource. Many pest identification guides are available for free or at a low cost through local libraries, state or university extension services, or private companies. It is also a good idea to consult with a professional when attempting to identify rare or exotic pests, as they require specialized knowledge and tools.

Pest Control Methods

Depending on the situation, there are many ways to control pests, including cultural, biological, and chemical methods. The most effective pest control techniques combine aspects of all three categories, with an emphasis on prevention, whenever possible.

Preventive steps include sanitation and scouting. Sanitation includes removing clutter from home interiors, storing food in the refrigerator or freezer, and keeping garbage receptacles tightly closed. Clutter also provides hiding places for pests, so eliminating it can reduce their numbers. Scouting involves regularly searching for, identifying, and assessing pest populations and damage. Scouting also helps to determine whether a pest is continuous and needs regular control or sporadic and only requires periodic control.

Physical pest control involves establishing barriers to prevent pests from entering structures or limiting their access to food, water, and shelter. These barriers may be natural, such as window screens to keep health and nuisance pests out of buildings, floating row covers for many horticultural crops, or traps for some pests such as codling moth larvae or earwigs. Physical pest control also includes removing weeds that provide shelter for pests and destroying nests.

The simplest and most important method of control is through natural enemies, which include parasites, predators, and pathogens. The natural enemies of a pest injure or consume the pests to limit their numbers. Introducing more natural enemies into an environment can supplement and reinforce this natural control, although there is often a lag between the increase in the enemy population and the resulting reduction in the pest population.

Many pest problems result from the interaction of environmental conditions that promote or sustain them. Evaluate the pests’ behavior, life cycle, and ecology to determine what conditions facilitate their growth and development and how they can be controlled. Also evaluate the underlying causes of a pest problem to develop an appropriate management plan that achieves the desired outcomes. Properly evaluating and selecting control methods can minimize the use of synthetic chemicals, which are most hazardous to people and pets. Whenever possible, use organic or natural pest control options. These control methods are least invasive and most environmentally friendly.


The word “pesticide” encompasses any substance used to kill pests such as insects, rodents and unwanted plants (weeds), or to prevent or reduce the damage they cause. These substances can be chemicals, natural materials such as microbes, bacteria and viruses, or manmade versions of these materials. They can be sprayed from spray cans and crop dusters or included in household cleaners, hand soaps, swimming pool chemicals and even in food. Pesticides are also used to control algae, fungus and diseases in trees and ornamental grasses, and to disinfect water tanks, swimming pools and ponds.

Pesticides are not recent inventions. Many ancient civilizations used materials such as elemental sulfur, salt and tar to protect their crops from insects and other pests. In modern times, scientists have developed chemical compounds to more effectively and efficiently control pests. The specifics of how a pesticide works is determined by its structural class, which relates to the molecular structure of the pesticide and its mode of action. Mode of action refers to the biological process that the pesticide disrupts. The modes of action are what distinguish one pesticide from another and what determines resistance management strategies.

Most commercially produced pesticides are manufactured using synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum or natural gas. A small percentage of pesticides are biobased, based on things found naturally in the environment such as microbes, bacteria, plants or viruses. These are sometimes referred to as organic or natural pesticides, although this term can be misleading since there is no federal definition of organic.

Insecticides kill or repel insect pests, such as flies, mosquitoes and slugs and snails. Herbicides control weeds in farmland, gardens and lawns. Fungicides control fungi that infect and destroy plants or spoil fruit and vegetables. Rodenticides kill or repel rodents such as mice, rats and squirrels that eat both farm and residential foodstuffs.

There are two types of pesticides, contact and non-contact. Contact pesticides remain on the surface of plants or in their soil and act through direct contact with the pest. Non-contact pesticides move inside the plant through the xylem or phloem, reaching the areas where the pests are located.


Pests can damage buildings and equipment, create health hazards for people in a building, and present a distracting nuisance. They can also contaminate food, reduce customer confidence, and lead to expensive fines or even shutdown of a facility. Fortunately, most pest infestations can be prevented by following good sanitation and prevention practices.

Good sanitation practices are critical to prevent the introduction of pests into a food production facility. Clean facilities are essential to protect product quality and ensure compliance with health and safety regulations. Develop a master sanitation schedule and adhere to it. Inspect the facility regularly and report findings to the pest control operator (PCO) as soon as possible so that corrective actions can be taken immediately.

Preventive pest control is the most cost-effective approach to minimizing problems with pests, both in terms of dollars and reputation. In many cases, it can be as simple as patching cracks and holes to eliminate entry points, removing trash and other debris from the facility on a regular basis, and keeping areas tidy.

Taking steps to deny food, water, and shelter sources can also help deter pests. Store all food products in sealed containers, dispose of trash on a regular basis, and remove clutter to reduce places for pests to hide. Sealing all openings into structures can stop pests from entering a building, and installing pest screens on windows and doors can prevent them from coming inside.

Inspect all food shipments to your facility and keep them as close to their point of origin as possible to minimize the amount of time they spend in transit. Maintain proper storage and refrigeration temperatures to keep food fresh and unattractive to pests.

Educate employees on the pest life cycle and what to look for to identify early warning signs of infestation. This will allow them to take action as soon as a problem is noticed, limiting the amount of pesticide required and minimizing potential environmental impact. Use only pesticides that are labeled for your specific problem and be sure to follow all instructions and safety precautions on the label.