Pest Control is managing unwanted organisms such as insects, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, or vertebrate animals. These organisms can damage crops, food stores, gardens, homes and buildings. They can also spread diseases such as rat-bite fever, Salmonella, Trichinosis and Plague. For more information, click the Website to proceed.

Physical traps, netting and blocking points of entry are often effective for controlling pests without the use of chemicals. However, chemical solutions are a more reliable option for controlling pests and can be safer for people and pets.

Insects are the most abundant and diverse group of animals on land. They occupy nearly every microhabitat and function as predators, prey, parasites, hosts or herbivores. Some insects carry pollen from one flower to another, enabling plants to produce seeds and fruit. Others help with aeration of soil and promote its fertility by burrowing through its surface layer. They are also important decomposers, scavenging carrion and rotting animal and plant materials.

In general, insects vary in size. Some, like cockroaches and earwigs, are nearly microscopic while others, such as beetles, dragonflies and walkingsticks, can grow over 12 inches (30 centimeters). Regardless of their size, insects have evolved a variety of ways to protect themselves from enemies. Some hide by blending in with their surroundings, while others can poison or sting their foes.

Most pests have a larval stage before becoming adults. This feeding and growing stage requires nutrients from food, and it also involves molting several times as the insect grows. For example, mosquitoes start life as eggs that hatch into tiny larvae known as wigglers. Once the larva is mature, it transforms into a pupal stage. This non-feeding state can last from a few days to several months.

Insects gain entrance to plants either during the egg stage, when they thrust their sharp ovipositors into tissues to deposit eggs, or in the nymphal stage, after they hatch from the eggs. Many insect pests feed within the tissue of the plant they infest, causing damage to its leaves, roots and stems. Infestation is often detected when a hole appears in a fruit, seed, nut, twig or trunk. The holes that insect pests create as they feed inside the plant are usually minute and hard to detect, since insects have piercing mouthparts that suck juices from their victims.


Rodents are mammals characterized by a pair of unremittingly growing front incisors. These teeth are used to gnaw seeds and other plant material, dig burrows and defend against predators. They are extremely diverse, representing more than 2000 species from pygmy mice to capybaras. They are found worldwide and inhabit a wide variety of habitats, including grasslands and forests, as well as urban environments.

Rodents have high reproductive potential and can produce litters of young every 6 to 12 months, with each litter containing 5-6 offspring. This exponential growth can result in overpopulation of rodents, especially in structures that provide shelter and food. Rodents are diurnal in their natural environment but enter periods of dormancy or deep hibernation during cold weather.

Rodent infestations present a serious health hazard. They spread diseases through their urine and feces. They also damage property by gnawing on electrical wires and other materials.

Rodent infestations are difficult to control once they are established in a house or other structure. The first step in rodent control is sanitation. Keeping garbage, compost and other materials as far from the house as possible, as well as woodpiles and stacks of lumber, can help prevent rodents. Store foods like grains, nuts and fruits in rodent-proof containers, and keep kitchens and pantry areas clean and free of crumbs. Store animal feed in containers that are tightly sealed. Maintaining proper storage of dry goods and eliminating cluttered spaces in attics, crawl spaces, and under sinks can prevent rodents from nesting in these places.


Birds are important in forest ecosystems, controlling populations of insect pest species that damage tree growth and survival. They also provide valuable pest control services in agricultural landscapes, reducing the number of plant-damaging insects and limiting the spread of crop diseases.

Bird predation of agricultural insect pests can significantly decrease population densities and the length of time between outbreaks, as well as reduce the severity of subsequent epidemics. However, the extent to which birds can control pests depends on a variety of factors, including habitat associations and individual feeding preferences.

To determine how much of a role bird species and habitats play in pest control on low-intensity New England farms, we collected and analyzed fecal samples from songbirds at 11 farms in Western Massachusetts over the summers of 2019 and 2020. PERMANOVA and GLM tests indicated that bird species, age and DOY (day of year) all had significant impacts on the frequency with which pests or their natural enemies were present in fecal samples. Because bird species and age were correlated, GLM models with both DOY and age were examined for collinearity using the Variance Inflation Factor (VIF) statistic.

We found that black-capped chickadees, song sparrows and gray catbirds consumed the most pests in our study system, whereas American redstarts consumed the least. These three species are predominantly shrubland birds that associate with open canopy conditions, and our results suggest that enhancing habitat for these species could enhance the role of bird predation on agricultural insect pests on low-intensity New England landscapes. In addition, examining differences in pest populations and damage between farms that excluded and included songbirds suggests that the benefits of bird predatory control can vary from crop to crop, farm to farm.


Fungi, which include mushrooms, yeasts, and the producer of the antibiotic penicillin, are kingdom members alongside plants. They aren’t often considered pests, but they can wreak havoc when they invade crops and cause plant disease. Fungi can also play a role in pest control, with some of the most important fungal biopesticides helping reduce the need for chemical pesticides.

A fungus called Beauveria bassiana targets insects such as aphids, whiteflies, fire ants, and bedbugs, penetrating the bugs’ exoskeletons and proliferating within them until they die from infection or are eaten by predators. Another fungus, Trichoderma viride, kills the plant pathogen Phytophthora nicotiana, which causes leaf spot in cotton and powdery mildew in crops like pineapple, improving crop yields.

Some fungi attack insect pests directly, with more than a thousand species attacking and parasitizing arthropods (insects, mites, ticks, caterpillars, and other arachnids) by infecting their body tissues or disrupting their hormone systems. Many of these entomopathogenic fungi are more effective against certain species than others, and their effectiveness is affected by environmental factors such as temperature and UV radiation.

One of the most promising of these fungi is Paecilomyces fumosoroseus, which infects the Formosan subterranean termite Coptotermes formosanus, causing billions of dollars in property damage and preventive measures each year in the United States. Scientists Chris Dunlap, Mark Jackson, and Maureen Wright in ARS’ Crop Bioprotection Research Unit in New Orleans have applied for a patent on a formulation of the fungus that delivers its slow-acting poison through foam.

The foam exposes the termites to spores of the fungus, which enters the insects’ bodies through tiny holes in their exoskeletons. The fungus sends out threadlike filaments that slowly dissolve the insects’ bodies, killing them from within over several days. The scientists believe the fungus may be a good choice for environmentally sensitive areas that are too close to natural habitats to use chemical pesticides.


Weeds are plants that grow where they shouldn’t. Their unwanted growth causes problems for crop production, lawns and gardens and for the overall environment. They are usually unattractive and compete with desired crops for nutrients, water and sunlight. They often spread quickly and can be difficult to eradicate. They may also harbor disease organisms or insects that can affect desired crops. They may contain toxins that interfere with human or animal health or may be poisonous to pets and livestock.

Almost all cultivated plants have wild ancestors that are susceptible to the same pathogens as the crop and some weeds are known to serve as reservoirs of inoculum for these pathogens. Understanding these relationships can inform scouting for diseases and pests in a field and may help growers determine how to manage the weed population to reduce potential economic loss.

Many weed species are food sources for beneficial insects, fungi and microorganisms. For example, a flush of common lambsquarter (Chenopodium album) in a fallow bed can take up nutrient leaching from the soil surface and protect the bed from crusting and erosion. It can also provide nutritious greens for livestock or humans.

In addition to providing food for beneficials, weeds can serve as nesting materials and nectar sources for honey bees. They can also serve as oviposition sites for parasitoids of certain agricultural pests. Flower strips of weedy wildflowers such as Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) are attractive to predatory wasps, flies and lady beetles that prey on garden pests. This natural insect control can be more effective than spraying an entire field with herbicides. Managing the presence of weeds can improve the quality of the landscape, ecosystems and wildlife habitat by eliminating the need for chemically intensive crop management systems.