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Choose an Effective Pest Control Method

Control Methods

You've got pests, and you want to control them with a dependable pest control method that does not contain chemical pesticides. Non-chemical pest control methods really work, and they have many advantages. Compared to chemical treatments, non-chemical methods are generally effective for longer periods of time. They are less likely to create hardy pest populations that develop the ability to resist pesticides.  Many non-chemical pest controls can be used with fewer safeguards, because they are generally thought to pose virtually no hazards to human health or the environment.

Discouraging pests by removing the conditions in which they thrive may eliminate the need for further action.  Indoor prevention methods include removing food and water sources, reducing clutter, and preventing pests from getting into the home.  Outdoor prevention methods include removing or destroying outdoor pest hiding places, removing breeding sites, and keeping outdoor plants healthy.

Using biological and/or manual controls will provide effective relief from some pests.  For example:

  • Increasing bird activity to control insects
  • Using attractive smells to lure the pest into a trap
  • Hand pulling weeds
  • Using a flyswatter or bug zapper to control insects

Visit Cornell Cooperative Extension’s IPM for Homes for more examples of non-chemical controls.

If non-chemical control methods do not bring the results you were hoping for, you may need to consider chemical controls, such as pesticide.  A pesticide is a chemical control that prevents, destroys, repels, or mitigates a pest.

Pesticide categories include but are not limited to herbicides, insecticides and rodenticides.

Broad spectrum pesticides affect a variety of pests while selective pesticides target a specific pest.

In the United States, pesticides are regulated and registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The EPA assesses the effects on human health and the environment and approves the label.   In addition to EPA registration, every pesticide product which is “used, distributed, sold, or offered for sale in New York State must also be registered with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).”

For more information on general pesticide definitions and regulations, please visit:

Consider the following when selecting a pesticide:

  • Decide what pesticide is best suited for the pest.
  • Decide what form of pesticide (granular, aerosol, liquid, bait, powder, dust) is best suited for the site.
  • Read the label
    • Make sure that the pest you are trying to control is listed on the product.
    • Select the least toxic pesticide that will take care of the issue.  Toxicity information should be provided on the label.  Signal words alert to the degree of toxicity like “Caution” (least toxic), “Warning,” “Danger,” “Poison” (most toxic).
    • Make sure the user is confident in their ability to follow the directions and they have the proper equipment to do so.
    • Make sure the site you will be applying the product to is listed on the label.
    • Make sure you have a suitable environment for storing the product or a plan for disposing left over product.
    • Make sure you can comply with the label’s Precautionary Statements before buying.
    • Don’t hesitate to ask a sales representative questions when buying.

For more information on pesticide selection, visit:

Labels are legal documents explaining proper uses, instructions for application, storage and disposal, first aid instructions, and information about the chemicals in the product.

Reading and understanding the pesticide label is important for deciding what product is best suited for each situation and how to use the product to achieve the best results while keeping you, the professional pesticide applicator, and the surrounding environment safe.

The following key features should be read and understood before buying any pesticide product:

  • EPA Registration Number:  The number can tell you that the EPA has examined the product for safety testing.  You can look up the number at
  • Product Type: Describes the type of pest the product will control.  Some examples include:
    • Herbicides (control unwanted plants).
    • Insecticides (control unwanted insects).
    • Rodenticides (control unwanted rodents).
    • Signal Words: Indicate the toxicity of the product.
    • Caution:  Slightly toxic, causes slight skin or eye irritation if improperly handled.
    • Warning:  Product is moderately toxic and will cause more skin and eye irritation than a product labelled caution.
    • Danger:  Severe eye and skin irritation.
    • Danger Poison:  Highly toxic by any route of entry.
  • Active Ingredient: Chemical responsible for controlling the pest.
  • Precautionary Statements: Provides details on what measures the pesticide applicator should take to protect themselves and others both during application and after.
  • Environmental Hazards: This section tells you if the product can cause environmental damage – if it’s harmful to wildlife, fish, endangered plants or animals, wetlands, or water.
  • Directions for Use: Provides instructions on how to properly use the product to achieve the best result. Be sure you can follow the directions and have proper equipment to do so.
  • First Aid: Instructions include what to do if the product has poisoned someone.  Instructions are for first aid only. Always call the phone number listed on the label.
  • Storage and Disposal: Provides directions for storage and disposal of leftover product. Make sure you have a proper place to store the product before buying and you have a plan for disposal.

If the product label is damaged or unreadable, you can search NYSDEC’s Bureau of Pest Management - Information Portal to find a copy of the label.

For more Information on reading labels, visit;

According to New York State pesticide laws, there are three types of pesticide applications:

  • Residential Applications:  The application of “general use” pesticides by ground equipment on property owned or leased by the applicator, excluding any home-based food service establishment.
  • Private Applications: The application of a restricted-use pesticide for producing an agricultural commodity (i.e. farming).
  • Commercial Applications:  The application of any pesticide not defined as a private or residential application of pesticides (examples: landscaping companies contracted to regularly apply pesticides on a homeowner’s lawn throughout a season).

When does a homeowner or renter need to hire a professional pesticide applicator (also known as a certified commercial pesticide applicator)?

  • When the use of a “Restricted Use” pesticide is required.
  • When the applicator is unable to comply with the directions for use on the pesticide label.
  • When the product needs to be used on land not owned or leased by the professional pesticide applicator.
  • When a tenant-occupied property is being treated by the landlord or property manager. (Tenants may treat their own living space with a general use pesticide but may not apply a product in common living areas such as hallways, doorways, or stairwells of multi-unit housing).
  • Aquatic pesticides may need to be applied by a certified commercial pesticide applicator. Refer to the NYSDEC’s regulations for use of aquatic pesticides.

Check with your local municipality for additional pesticide use restrictions.

What is the Neighbor Notification Law?

The Neighbor Notification Law requirements include:

  • Providing 48 hour notice to neighbors for certain commercial lawn applications.
  • Posting of visual notification markers for most residential lawn applications.
  • Providing notice to occupants of multiple dwellings and other occupied structures.
  • Posting of an information sign by retailers who sell general use lawn pesticides.

The Neighbor Notification Law and regulation are only effective in a County, or in New York City, that has adopted a local law to "opt into" the Neighbor Notification Law in its entirety and without any changes.  Dutchess County has not “opted in.”

Additional resources to consider when making your decision:

General Use:

  • Place markers along the perimeter of the area where pesticides will be applied.  Residential lawn applications treating an area of more than 100 square feet require markers to be placed along the perimeter of the area where pesticides will be applied.  Markers must be clearly visible to people outside the perimeter of the property.
  • Check the label for recommended protective clothing as well as other personal protective equipment (PPE) and prepare yourself accordingly.  If the label does not recommend any specific PPE non-absorbent gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed toed shoes should sufficiently protect the pesticide applicator.
  • Follow the directions to protect the pesticide applicator and others.  Check the label again to ensure the pest you are controlling is listed and to determine the time and conditions to apply. Use only the amount of the product that is required on the label, using more could be hazardous for the applicator and the surrounding environment.
  • Avoid touching of the face, eating, drinking, or smoking.  Traces of the pesticide could easily be carried to the mouth.  In addition, smoking could cause other adverse reactions with the pesticide especially if the product is flammable.
  • Keep pesticides in their original container.  Never transfer pesticides to another container for storage.
  • Mixing, diluting, or applying pesticides should be done in well ventilated areas.  Mix only the amount of pesticide required for each application.
  • Avoid contact with the areas where the pesticide was mixed or applied for at least the time required on the label.
  • Spills should be soaked up by an absorbent material like sawdust or kitty litter and then disposed of in accordance to the label.  Do not attempt to wash away with water.
  • If you or someone you know experiences an illness or injury related to pesticide use, call a doctor or Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) immediately for treatment advice.  If medical treatment is sought, please have the pesticide label available for the treating physician.

For more information on general pesticide use, visit:

For Indoor Use:

  • Make sure the label states the pesticide can be used indoors and the specific area being treated is listed.
  • If necessary, ventilate the area.  Open windows and doors and use fans to help keep the area ventilated while the pesticide is working.
  • Avoid using pesticides near areas used for food preparation.  If there is a possibility of contamination wash the surface thoroughly according to the label

For more information on indoor pesticide use, visit:

For Outdoor Use:

  • Do not apply pesticides on windy days.
  • ​​​​​​​If a breeze should pick up, position yourself so the pesticide does not blow back on you and consider stopping the application.
  • Close windows and doors to nearby buildings to avoid accidental entry.
  • Spray closely to your target and use coarse droplet nozzles to reduce misting.
  • Do not apply water to any area recently treated by a pesticide.
  • Do not apply pesticides above or near wells and storm drains.

For more information on outdoor pesticide use, visit:

After Application of Pesticides:

  • Read the directions for cleanup and disposal.
  • Always wash your hands in addition to anything else that may have come into contact with the pesticide.
  • Separate potentially contaminated clothing and wash separately.
  • Evaluate the results of the pesticide application.  Contact a professional for advice if the effects are not sufficient.

For specific pesticide storage details consult the product label, however in general:

  • Keep pesticides out of reach of children and pets.
  • Keep pesticides in their original containers with the label on.
  • Do not transfer pesticides to any incorrectly marked or unmarked containers.
  • Do not store pesticides where flooding is possible or where a leak could expose the pesticide to water.
  • Store pesticides away from food, animal feed, and medical supplies.
  • Flammable pesticides should be kept far from the household and from ignition sources such as stove tops and fireplaces.

For more information on storage of pesticides, please visit: