Safe Home Insecticide Use

Insecticides are used to kill, repel, or prevent the appearance of certain insects, but are often poisonous and should be used with caution.
Safe Home Insecticide Use - Articles

Updated: August 25, 2017

Safe Home Insecticide Use

Did you know?

  • More than one billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the U.S.
  • Homeowners use more pesticides, on a pound per acre basis, than farmers do.
  • In 1939 there were 32 pesticide products registered in the U.S.; in 1993 there were 22,000.
  • Over 20% of pesticides currently registered in the U.S. are linked to cancer, birth defects, developmental harm or nerve damage.

Do I have a Pest Problem?

Decide if the insect is really a problem. Many insects are perfectly harmless or even helpful. A bug should not be killed without a good reason.

Identify the insect and learn about its biology.

Example:
Killing worker ants will not solve your ant problem. The ant nest and queen must be eliminated, otherwise your ant problem will continue.

What can I do?

Consider all options including non-insecticide options:

  • Remove sources of food and water.
  • Destroy pest shelters and breading sites.
  • Maintain physical barriers that keep pests out of your house (screens, walls, windows).
  • Eliminate wet areas that provide pests with water such as leaky pipes, damp basement areas and standing water.
  • Dispose of garbage regularly

Which Insecticide is right for me?

A good source of information on an insecticide is its label.
Look for insecticides that:

  • Target the pest.
  • Are the most effective.
  • Are short in duration.
  • Can be safely applied.
  • Are least likely to get on/in you.
  • Are the least toxic.

Insecticides come in many forms:
The concentration of active ingredient (poison) in each of these forms is different and they pose different risks to human and animals.

  • Liquid Concentrate (Most Dangerous)
  • Dust
  • Ready-mixed Form
  • Covered Baits (Least Dangerous)

"Signal words" tell how toxic an insecticide is.

Caution - least toxic

Warning

Danger - most toxic

How Should I Apply it?

  • Read the directions before opening the insecticide container.
  • Take any suggested protective measures.
  • Know what to do in an emergency.
  • Follow the mixing directions and apply the correct amount of insecticide.
  • If some is good, more is not better! Use insecticides at recommended rates. Using more than the recommended amount only increases your chances of exposure and contamination.
  • Always wash your hands after application.

How Should I Store it?

  • Store insecticides in their original containers.
  • Store in a dry cool place.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.

How Should I dispose of it?

  • Put on rubber gloves before moving any old insecticide container.
  • If the container has no labels, and it contents are unknown, handle with great care.
  • If the container is leaking, place in a heavy-duty plastic bag and seal.
  • DO NOT put unwanted insecticides in the trash. Take them to a local hazardous waste collection facility.

The Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management Program