The Basics of Pest Control

Natural forces affect pest populations, so eradication is rarely possible in outdoor settings. Instead, the goal is usually prevention and suppression.

Look for signs of pests outside, including ant hills, termite mud tubes, and damaged vegetation. Inside, keep clutter to a minimum to provide less hiding places for pests. Clean garbage cans regularly. Contact Pest Control South Lake TX now!

Preventive pest control is a proactive approach to managing pests. It involves removing conditions that promote pest infestations, such as food, water, shelter and other resources, and preventing pests from accessing these areas. This can include regularly inspecting structures to identify and address potential pest entry points, sealing cracks and crevices, maintaining sanitation practices that reduce pest food sources, and utilizing landscaping methods that eliminate pest hiding places.

Prevention may also involve monitoring pest populations to determine the best time to intervene. Some pests have very predictable life cycles, making their numbers easy to predict at certain times of the year. In addition, weather patterns often influence pest activity. Rain, freezing temperatures, and drought can directly affect pest populations.

When implementing preventive pest control, it is important to understand the pests’ lifestyle, habits and ideal habitat. This will help to ensure that pest treatments are targeted effectively and efficiently. Additionally, it is helpful to know the different pest life stages, such as egg, larva, nymph, pupa and adult, as some pests require specific interventions at certain life stages.

Another way to prevent pest infestations is to create a barrier around the property. This can be accomplished by using screens on windows and doors, sealing cracks and crevices, repairing roof leaks and preventing debris piles from coming close to the exterior of the structure. Additionally, sanitizing all containers, receptacles and appliances can help to limit the number of pests invading an area.

The most effective method of preventing pests is to stop them before they cause damage or spread disease. Pests are more than just annoying; they can cause serious health issues and costly repairs. Preventive pest control services help to reduce costs and provide peace of mind.

Pests are able to enter homes and businesses through the smallest cracks and holes. Regularly inspecting the structure, paying special attention to the foundation, loose siding and utility lines, can help to detect early signs of pest activity and repair them before they become an issue. In addition, using a good pest repellant that mimics spices or a predator’s scent can be a great way to deter unwanted pests.


Natural enemies – predators and parasitoids that prey on or kill crop pests – provide an essential ecosystem service to agriculture. They help to regulate pest populations and reduce the need for chemical control, saving farmers an estimated $4.5 billion annually in pesticide costs. However, the strength of pest suppression by natural enemies is often influenced by landscape context. For example, multiple enemies that attack a pest at different periods of its life cycle can enhance biological control. However, the strength of trophic cascades can be dampened by antagonistic interactions between enemies such as intraguild predation (i.e., predators consuming immature parasitoids within their prey).

A key step in effective pest control is monitoring and correct identification of the pest. This helps to determine the level at which a pest is causing unacceptable injury or damage and may also be a trigger for controlling its numbers. Threshold levels are based on esthetic, health and economic considerations, but can be as low as one pest per hectare.

While monitoring can be done by observing pest presence, abundance or damage, it is most effective when integrated with other aspects of prevention. In addition to monitoring, preventive measures can include physical barriers such as netting or screening in greenhouses and mulching in fields. Integrated pest management, which is an approach that integrates beneficial insects into cropping systems for natural pest control, can dramatically reduce and in some cases eliminate the need for pesticides.

The sensitivity of pest suppression to landscape configuration is important for understanding the implications of preserving natural enemy habitat for optimal pest control. For example, pest suppression is expected to be greater in fine-grained agricultural landscapes because fewer fields are spaced closer together and more of the surrounding seminatural habitats are within foraging range of generalist natural enemies. However, in other cases proximity to seminatural habitat can be irrelevant or detrimental, as in the case of aphids in sun-grown Brazilian coffee. In this situation, suppression by aphid-eating birds was increased with distance to forest but herbivorous beetle richness and abundance decreased.


Detection is the first step in pest control. It is a critical part of prevention because it tells us whether a pest population is above action threshold levels and needs to be controlled. Action thresholds, which are usually based on esthetic, health or economic considerations, determine when the level of pest damage is unacceptable and force the need for control actions.

Pest detection is accomplished by visual inspection and use of traps. A trap is a container placed in an area where pests are known to congregate, such as along the edges of walls. The container is baited with a food lure, such as meat scraps or grain. When the bait is taken by a pest, a signal is transmitted to the trap which triggers an alarm and may start a mechanical trap mechanism.

Infrared (IR) cameras also can be used for pest detection. They work by identifying surface-level infrared radiation. All living things, including pests, emit some infrared radiation. IR cameras are most effective when they are positioned to cover wide areas and are not interfered by direct sunlight or other sources of heat.

Sometimes, pest detection can be difficult, even for experienced people. It is easy to overlook telltale signs of an infestation, especially if the pests are moving slowly or hiding. In addition, the pests can hide behind other objects or in tight spaces. Fortunately, pest-detection technologies have come a long way over the years, and they can make it much easier to identify pest infestations.

Some pests, such as Mediterranean fruit flies and gypsy moths, are controlled by using pheromone traps. The traps are set on a regular schedule and monitored for pest presence. This allows eradication efforts to begin before the pest populations reach uncontrollable levels.

Other pests, such as fungi and rodents, are most effectively controlled by regular visual inspections. This is especially true for museums, where pests can cause a variety of problems from grazing to perforation to complete destruction of artifacts. Maintaining sanitary conditions through the organized layout of storage and museum facilities can help decrease the effort and time required for these inspections. In addition, creating a clear line of sight on floors can facilitate the placement of traps and detection devices.


Pests are organisms that damage or spoil human food, health and safety, or property. Pest control is a process or procedure that prevents and eradicates pest infestation. This can be accomplished through exclusion, repulsion, physical removal or chemical means. Pests can include rodents, birds, insects and other organisms. In homes, termites are a common pest that causes structural damage and requires costly repair. In the agricultural arena, pests can be a major threat to plant production and quality and a serious economic concern.

In outdoor environments, eradication is rare, since it is difficult to achieve. Instead, the goals are usually prevention and suppression. In closed environments such as greenhouses, however, eradication is an important goal. In these cases, a pest may have escaped from natural predators and prey, or it may have gotten into the environment due to human activities. Eradication strategies for Mediterranean fruit fly and gypsy moth are good examples of this type of situation.

Historically, many pests were controlled through cultural practices, natural enemies or other environmental conditions. In modern times, the most common pest control measures are chemicals. These can be broad-spectrum (non-selective) or narrow-spectrum, organic or inorganic, and they can be derived from plants or petroleum products. Typically, they are designed to disrupt the pest’s ability to reproduce or to cause injury to the plant. Various types of nerve toxins and growth inhibitors are used to accomplish this. These chemicals are often toxic to non-target organisms such as natural enemies and can persist in the environment affecting water supply, soil productivity or air quality.

Biological control is an alternative to chemicals and involves the introduction of natural enemies to a habitat where they can perform their natural functions such as predation, parasitism, herbivory or competition with the pest. This can be done in two ways: Classical biological control, which aims to establish a population of natural enemy that will reach a stable balance with the pest, or biocontrol by artificial selection which focuses on breeding and releasing sterile organisms that will compete with or otherwise reduce the abundance of the pest.