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Safe, Smart Pesticide Use

Safe, Smart Pesticide Use

AUBURN, Ala.—Spring has arrived in full force with rising temperatures, which means pests are starting to come out of hiding too. Alabama Cooperative Extension System professionals want to educate people on safe pesticide use and how to store them correctly.

A pest is any kind of insect or animal that acts in a destructive manner towards property including, but not limited to, home, garden and crops. To remove these pests, many homeowners rely on various pesticides. The identification of beneficial insects versus pests should always occur before purchasing any pesticides as these insects might actually be helpful and should not be harmed. Proper control begins with reviewing the pesticide label for the pest trying to be controlled. Only use the product as labeled by purchasing and using the right amount.

When applying a pesticide, it is important to read every label and acquire all personal protective equipment (PPE) before the container is opened. These labels describe exactly how the product should be used  to achieve results. 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, so be sure to only apply the amount you absolutely need to destroy the pest.

After the pest has been removed, it’s likely that there will be leftover pesticide for future uses. Dr. Sonja Thomas, an Alabama Extension pesticide applicator training coordinator, reports that pesticide users can avoid common mistakes when it comes to storing pesticides in their homes.

To successfully store pesticides, they should stay in the original container in a cool, dry location. Specific instructions can be found on the pesticide’s label, as not all products are exactly the same. Keeping pesticides away from food and children is also essential.

“Many pesticides have bright colors and are attractive to kids thinking they are candy,” Thomas said.

In the case that all the pesticide has been used, rinse the container out with water three times. The rinse water should be poured onto the targeted area and not down the drain. If the pesticide came with a sprayer, rinse it out with fresh water and apply the rinse water to the targeted area as well. Once the container has been rid of any and all pesticides, wrap it in newspaper and dispose of it in the trash. Pesticides and their containers should never be put into recycling. Following these simple instructions helps not only the environment, but also the applicator of the pesticides and their property.

For more information about pesticide safety contact the Alabama Pesticide Safety Education Program. If any problems should arise, contact the American Association for Poison Control Centers at (800) 222-1222.

Have a gardening question? Call the Master Gardener Helpline. To reach the helpline, dial (877) 252-GROW (4769).

About Bailey Ray