Identify pests before applying pesticides

by Amanda Tedrow, University of Georgia

Pesticides, which include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and more, can contain organic or conventional ingredients. People use them in homes and workplaces, on farms and in gardens, and in other places where they want to control pests like weeds, insects, fungi, rodents and plant viruses.

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension urges all Georgians to learn more about the safe use, storage and disposal of pesticides. The UGA Extension Pesticide Safety Education Program promotes the safe, responsible use of pesticides by individuals and commercial groups by providing training programs, materials and educational resources that cover pest identification, personal safety, safe storage and safe disposal of pesticides.

UGA Extension experts educate homeowners, landscape professionals, farmers and other individuals who commonly use pesticides about how to protect the environment, reduce pesticide drift and runoff, protect threatened and endangered species, protect water quality, and keep food safe.

To reduce the unnecessary use of pesticides, remember that not every bug is a pest. Integrated pest management (IPM) is a science-based decision-making process focused on controlling insects through biological, mechanical, cultural and chemical methods. IPM reduces the economic, environmental and public health risks associated with pests and pest management practices.

The first step in the IPM process is pest identification. If an insect, weed or suspected plant disease causes trouble in your landscape or garden, bring a sample of the pest or email a photograph to your local UGA Extension office. Place the insect in a plastic container or glass bottle, or bring in a freshly cut leaf sample.

UGA Extension agents can identify the suspected pest and recommend the low-risk treatment options, if treatment is needed. Some insects may actually be beneficial to your plants.

Agents use their knowledge and experience, and the home and garden edition of the 2018 Georgia Pest Management Handbook, to give control recommendations. The home and garden edition of the handbook, along with the commercial edition, provides current information on selection, application and safe use of pest control chemicals.

To purchase a print copy of either edition of the 2018 Georgia Pest Management Handbook, visit The Commercial Edition is $50, which includes both volumes. The Home and Garden Edition is $20.

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