Summary: According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a pesticide is a substance used to destroy pests. This pesticide information will tell you what you need to know in order to achieve the best results.
The term pesticide is often used inaccurately when referring to pest treatments because some œpesticides do not actually kill the insect, as the term implies. Some pesticides repel, while others regulate the insect's growth preventing further reproduction. The goal is the same. Eliminate the target pest from the environment, but you need good pesticide information to make informed decisions on which product to use for your particular situation.
Pesticides come in the form of stomach poisons, contact pesticides, fumigants, desiccant powders and numerous other packages. Choosing which pesticide is right for a problem depends on the type of pest, the severity of the infestation, the location of the pest, the surrounding environment and the proximity to humans.
Let's examine some of the various pesticide formulations. Each pesticide is labeled with a different letter depending on the type of formulation. For example, dry formulations like pesticide dusts would display a œD. The chemical molecule that actually does the killing is called the active ingredient. This molecule is mixed in with or coated on some type of inert ingredient that serves to carry the active ingredient to its target. If a product only contained active ingredients it would potentially be too costly and too dangerous to apply. The addition of inert ingredients cuts the strength of the finished product to a level that provides good target insect for a reasonable cost.
Pesticide dusts have long lasting residual effects as long as water does not wash it away. Dusts should not be applied above any area where food is prepared because dusts can drift down and coat preparation surfaces. Boric acid and Delta Dust are examples of an insecticidal dust.
Granules (G): These are particles larger than dust. The active ingredient is coated on clay or ground up nutshells. These are ready to use products, but can be more expensive than some types of pesticide formulation such as wettable powders or emusifiable concentrates. They may also require moisture to trigger the pesticide's action.
Wettable powder (WP, W): These products usually contain 50% or more of active ingredient. Wettable powders do not dissolve in water, but remain suspended in the liquid mixture. Wettable powders are used to treat porous surfaces like concrete block. They need to be constantly agitated in the spray tank to keep the mixture in suspension. Use caution not to inhale the powder when mixing.
Baits (B): The active ingredient in baits is mixed with food or another attractant to form a solid or liquid bait. Baits are ready to use and have long last residual effects. The target pest often takes the insecticide bait back to its nest, spreading it to other pests. Baits may pose a health hazard to children or non-target animals, so some knowledge is needed to know where to place baits depending on the target pest.
Fumigants: The active ingredient in a fumigant is slowly released into the air. Fumigants come in the form of pellets or tablets that react with moisture in the air or soil, or as a gas. They are slow acting, but are highly toxic. These products are not available to anyone other than licensed pest control professionals.
Emulsifiable Concentrates (EC or E): These products are concentrated oil solutions with emulsifiers added to allow them to mix with water. The EC mixture is usually creamy white in color with large droplets that need to be shaken before use. These mixtures are easy to apply and don't leave a visible residue, but they can be absorbed through the skin so caution should be used when and where these are applied.
Suspension Concentrates (SC): There are finely ground particles of an active ingredient that are suspended in a liquid formulation. SCs are much like wettable powder insecticides in a liquid form. The advantage here is that you don't have to measure or mix anything yourself.
Flowable Microencapsulations (CS, FM, ME): This formulation encloses the active ingredient in microscopic spheres of plastic or other polymer material that protects against them against the degrading effects of water. This process extends the residual life of the product and makes them suitable for outdoor use. This product may leave a visible residue on a sprayed surface, but the product is usually less harmful to people than other formulations with the same active ingredients. Use the recommended size of sprayer screen to avoid clogging.
Ready-to-use Sprays (RTU): The active ingredient is mixed in a spray concentration and packaged as a pressurized aerosol or as a liquid with a trigger sprayer device. Ready-to-use products have the advantage of having no preparation required, but might be more expensive than concentrates.
Always, always, always read the label carefully before using any kind of pesticide, and don't use a pesticide where pets or children might come into contact with it.