Pests can be a real pain to control, whether they’re damaging plants in your garden or causing disease problems on your crops. That’s why it’s essential to have a plan for how to deal with them.
Integrated pest management, or IPM, uses preventive measures to reduce the need for chemical control. It also works with beneficial organisms, or natural enemies, to help control pests naturally.
Insects are a vital part of many ecosystems. They help keep pest insects under control, pollinate plants we rely on as food and act as sanitation experts, cleaning up waste so the environment doesn’t become a cesspool of dung.
A large number of insect species have evolved in order to survive in a wide range of environmental conditions. They have also developed specialized behaviors to cope with stresses.
Most insects develop through a series of distinct stages, including metamorphosis. As they grow, their outer skeleton (cuticle) must be shed, replaced and hardened.
Insects have three body regions, the head, thorax and abdomen. The head contains parts for eating and sensory perception, the thorax provides structural support for legs and wings, and the abdomen functions in digestion and reproduction.
Weeds can cause problems for crop production, reducing yields and quality, stealing water and nutrients, producing allelopathic substances (toxic chemicals that inhibit the growth or germination of plants nearby), causing dockage, tainted products, increased numbers of harmful insects or diseases, and more difficult harvest.
Weed species may also be beneficial in some ways, as they can provide a habitat for certain insect pests and beneficial insects, allowing crops to flourish. They can also protect soil from erosion and improve its structure, generating a microclimate that is favourable to crop growth.
Weeds can also be controlled by a number of methods, including chemical control (herbicides), biological control and cultural control. However, some weeds are invasive and pose serious environmental and economic threats to the land they inhabit. In New Zealand, a number of weeds are listed by the Department of Conservation and regional councils as environmental weeds and are banned from sale or propagation under the National Pest Plant Accord.
Rodents can cause a lot of damage, both to people and to property. They can chew through wires, contaminate food and water supplies, and transmit many diseases.
They also gnaw at storage silos and grain bags, causing them to leak. This can lead to losses of billions of dollars each year.
Rats can also carry a number of diseases, including Arenavirus and Hantavirus that can be transmitted to humans through contaminated foods or other infected materials.
Pest control methods should be designed to remove rodents’ food, water, and shelter while limiting their ability to access other resources. These include trapping, spraying and dusting with fumigants that target the insect pests that feed on the rats.
The most humane and least inhumane methods of rodent control include snap traps, glue boards and maze-type traps that drown them. However, these methods are not always effective. Moreover, they can cause other problems such as secondary poisoning of non-target animals.
Diseases are a result of interactions between a host (plant, animal, or human) and a pathogen. These interactions can be influenced by an array of environmental and physiological factors, as well as the host’s characteristics.
The ability of a pathogen to produce disease depends on the virulence, or intensity of the infection, and the host’s resistance. The host’s resistance may be conferred by a vaccine, or it may be determined genetically.
Infectious diseases can be transmitted to people through contact with an infected pest or by the bite of an infected insect vector. These pests include mosquitoes, ticks, flies, mites and fleas.
Diseases can be controlled by using a variety of strategies, including cultural controls and the use of pesticides. The most effective cultural control methods include crop rotation, mulching and companion planting. Chemicals can be used to kill certain pests or to control populations of their natural enemies, such as beneficial insects. However, chemical pesticides must be applied at the right time to have the greatest effect.