The Basics of Pest Control

Pest Control Springfield MO involves identifying and managing organisms that damage or interfere with the health of humans, plants, or animals. Threshold-based decision-making focuses on determining the number of pests that are unacceptable and the best tactics for controlling them.

Preventing pests begins with eliminating their sources of food and water. Store foods in sealed containers and remove garbage regularly. Caulk gaps around doors and windows and repair torn screens.

Prevention is a form of pest control that involves keeping pests out of an area, often by creating physical barriers. It can also include removing food, water, and shelter from a pest’s environment. This may be as simple as putting up netting to keep birds away from fruit trees or as complex as altering the design of an industrial processing facility to prevent rodents from entering the building. Prevention may also include monitoring and treating an area once a pest problem is detected.

Sometimes, pests must be treated with chemical compounds to eliminate them. These are called pesticides and can be a very effective form of pest control. However, the use of pesticides can be dangerous and should only be performed by trained and certified specialists. Pesticides must always be used in accordance with product labels and should never be abused, such as by applying more than the recommended amount or by transferring pesticides to other containers. They must also be used in safe places where they will not come into contact with people or pets.

The best way to avoid pest problems is to stop them from arising in the first place. This is known as preventative or prophylactic pest control. Preventive measures include keeping food in tightly closed containers, storing food in rodent-proof bins, using traps to catch or kill unwanted animals and cleaning up spilled foodstuffs. It is also important to remove any sources of food, water or shelter for pests, such as piles of rubbish or overgrown vegetation.

Suppression is the most common form of pest control in homes and other buildings. It is used when the pests are causing or likely to cause a threat to human health, property or economic viability. Suppression usually includes spraying, baiting and trapping. It can also include fumigation and heating. For example, heat or freezing treatments can be used to destroy pests that live in stored grain or meat products.

Eradication is rare in outdoor situations, but it can be attempted when a specific pest is deemed to be of major concern, such as the Mediterranean fruit fly or gypsy moth. It is also sometimes tried in enclosed areas where the presence of certain pests can be disastrous, such as in operating rooms and other sterile environments in health care facilities.


The goal of suppression is to reduce pest numbers and/or damage to an acceptable level. Pests are often repelled by cultural controls such as plowing, crop rotation, cleaning tillage equipment and removing infected plant material. Cultural controls may also include managing irrigation schedules to prevent long periods of high relative humidity that favor disease pests.

Chemical control is an important part of a comprehensive pest management program and includes the use of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and other chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers many products that are effective against pests, and many of these are available in a variety of forms, including sprays, baits, dusts, powders, granules and injections. Chemicals must be used carefully to avoid contaminating other plants or people and to limit off-target impact.

A combination of prevention and control methods is usually needed in any commercial food facility. Some pests, such as the cockroach and bed bugs, are persistent and require repeated treatments to keep them below their economic thresholds. Other pests, such as rodents and flies, can be controlled by eliminating harborage and reducing food access.

Some pests have a zero tolerance level and cannot be present in any setting, such as operating rooms and other sterile areas of health care facilities. Eradication is generally not a goal in outdoor pest situations, but is possible in confined environments such as food establishments and offices.

Preventing pest infestations is less expensive than eradicating them, so it is important to focus on prevention whenever possible. Educate customers on how to keep pests away from their facilities by sealing cracks, caulking holes, and making sure that all equipment is clean. Also, encourage the use of natural insect repellents such as cedarwood, lavender and eucalyptus. Repellents are made from natural oils that deter insects by scent and can be sprayed or rubbed on surfaces. They can be purchased from most garden or home centers. Be sure to read the product label, which contains detailed instructions on how to safely use a repellent and may list potential hazards. If these measures are ineffective, hire pest control professionals to handle eradication programs.


A pest is any organism that negatively impacts human activities, crops or the environment. It may be an insect, plant or fungus. Pest control involves regulating, deterring, or eliminating those organisms that cause damage. This can be achieved through physical methods such as traps and barriers or chemical means using pesticides.

When pesticides are used, they are generally the fastest and most effective way to control pests. However, they can also be the most dangerous form of pest control if they are not applied properly and monitored closely. Failure to control a pest population after a pesticide application could indicate that the chemical was ineffective, not properly mixed with water or other chemicals, or was applied at a time when the pest was not in its most vulnerable stage.

Other forms of pest control can be natural or organic. This includes introducing a pest’s natural enemies such as predators, parasites and pathogens to control it. This can be supplemented by releasing larger numbers of the enemy to accelerate its effect.

Temperature control can also be an important form of pest control. Both hot and cold temperatures can kill many pests, either by directly killing them or by destroying their eggs or larvae. In addition, growing produce in insulated containers slows or eliminates the growth of some pests.

In the most extreme form of pest control, eradication is the permanent reduction to zero of the worldwide incidences of infection caused by a particular disease as a result of deliberate efforts. To date, only 2 diseases have been eradicated: smallpox from the variola virus and rinderpest from the rinderpest virus (RPV).

Eradication is not usually possible for plants or animals that are highly adaptable. Moreover, the loss of habitat or environmental changes can overwhelm even intensive eradication efforts. For example, in the US, a combination of intense eradication effort and habitat destruction led to the extinction of Rocky Mountain grasslands and the subsequent loss of the sagebrush ecosystem. Nevertheless, eradication is still an important objective for protecting public health from the diseases that pests carry, safeguarding agriculture and food supplies, preserving property from damage, and maintaining ecological balance.

Biological Control

Biological control involves the use of organisms that naturally attack and kill pests. These natural enemies may be predators, parasites, diseases or herbivores. People employ three general ways to use these organisms in home landscapes, greenhouses and agriculture: they import, augment or conserve them. Biological control is an important component of IPM programs but is not a substitute for other preventive measures such as cultural, physical or mechanical controls.

Species that are new to an environment often have problems when they first enter it, including being killed off or reduced in population by their natural enemies. Because populations of such “introduced” species can explode and overtake native ones, they are sometimes considered pests. The discovery of their natural enemy species, which have not co-evolved with the new invader, is a major goal of biological control research. Such efforts can lead to the effective long-term control of certain pests, such as the destruction of gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) by parasitic wasps introduced from Europe; the limiting of growth of cassava mealybugs in tropical America by the parasite Coccophagus tetracnemus; and the control of several insect crop pests in home gardens by Bacillus thuringiensis.

A similar approach is to use “non-permanent” biological control agents that do not seek to establish populations that reach long-term balance with their host or prey. This approach is sometimes called augmentation, inundative or inoculative biocontrol and can be used to control pests that are already at damaging levels. This approach is commonly employed with nematodes and plant pathogens.

The most demanding form of biological control is establishing a co-evolved balance between the introduced pest and its natural enemy in the wild or greenhouse. This approach requires a great deal of research into the biology of the pest, potential natural enemies and their host or prey plants, as well as the unintended consequences (positive or negative effects on native species that are not pests and/or other natural enemies of the introduced pest). Once suitable organisms have been found and reared, they must be released in a controlled manner to ensure their survival and to manage their interaction with the pest.

Understanding The Life Cycles Of Common Pests For Better Control

Pests can cause serious damage to your property if they are left untreated. This is why it’s important to understand their life cycle so that you can use Armis Pest Management methods at the right time.

A pest’s life cycle consists of several stages that vary in length. Understanding these stages helps you to prevent pest infestations by targeting them at the most vulnerable stage of development.

pest control

Egg Stage

The life cycle of an insect is divided into four distinct stages – egg, larva or nymph, pupa, and adult. Pests that have a complete life cycle include beetles, moths, caterpillars, and leaf-feeding beetles (caterpillars). Those with an incomplete life cycle can cause damage at more than one stage. For example, ants can damage plants in the egg, larva, and adult stages.

Many pest species lay eggs in damp soil or other substrates. The eggs then hatch into a larva or nymph, which feeds on organic material until it matures. The larva or nymph then goes through several molting stages and transforms into a pupa before it becomes an adult. Depending on the type of pest, the egg and larval stages can have significant negative impacts on crops.

In some cases, pests can be controlled by targeting specific life cycles. For example, mosquitoes require standing water for breeding, so interrupting this phase with proper preventative measures can help control their numbers. Flies also have an aquatic phase, and disrupting their reproduction can significantly reduce their impact on humans, animals, and gardens.

Flies’ mating behavior involves males displaying elaborate courtship displays to attract females using scent, sound, and visual cues. They can lay up to 500 eggs in a single day and select locations near decaying organic matter where they will lay their eggs. Once hatched, fly larvae are voracious feeders and play an important role in breaking down organic matter and recycling nutrients.

When beetles and moths lay their eggs in or on a plant, the young larvae burrow into the soil, feeding on roots and tubers, leaves, flowers, and fruits. This damages the plant and can result in stunting or death. The length of the larval or nymphal stage can vary from less than 30 days to one or more years for different kinds of beetles.

Bean leaf beetles and hornworms also have a damaging larval or nymphal stage, and both the beetles and their nymphs can damage fruit. As the name suggests, these insects attack beans and legumes, but they can girdle tomato and pepper plants as well.

Larval Stage

Once a pest species’ eggs hatch, it enters the larval stage. The larva is a specialized feeding stage that doesn’t look very much like the adult pest and has unique characteristics and behaviors of its own. Larvae consume food to grow and develop, shed their skin several times (this is called molting), and may even be able to suck liquids out of plants that they are eating.

The frog hopper is a good example of a larva that can suck out the liquid of its prey. Its larval mouthparts are specially adapted for this purpose. It also allows the hopper to move rapidly in search of new food, which can lead to higher encounter rates and feeding success.

After the larva reaches maturity, it becomes a pupa. The pupal stage is a non-feeding and immobile stage of the life cycle. It’s during the pupal stage that many pests become most vulnerable to preventative and control measures.

It is important to understand the importance of this life-cycle stage when planning pest control activities. By knowing that pests are most vulnerable during this period, you can target prevention and control measures at the most effective time. This could prevent the development of a pest infestation from occurring or becoming unmanageable on your property.

Many animal species have a complex life cycle that contains distinct postembryonic stages – namely, egg, larva or nymph, and adult. The development of these separate life stages, known as metamorphosis, gives the individual species the ability to adapt and occupy different ecological niches. For instance, barnacles and tunicates have pelagic larvae that move to a suitable habitat before molting to settle into their adult form. Likewise, the larvae of sea-floor invertebrates such as mussels and crabs need to move into a new territory when they mature into nauplius forms. This process is also known as dispersal.

Pupa Stage

Insects that undergo complete metamorphosis have a pupal stage as well. The pupal stage usually takes place in a cocoon or some kind of protective case. Inside this, the insect goes through major changes to become an adult. Some pests, like mosquitoes, emerge from the pupal stage ready to seek blood for reproduction. Others, such as rodents, spend a good portion of the year in their pupal form before they’re ready to reproduce and cause damage.

As the larva reaches the end of its final instar, it secretes special cells that will transform it into an insect adult. These cells are called imaginal discs. The imaginal discs rest dormant until some cue (temperature, day length, growth, etc) triggers the hormones that will kickstart the pupal process. Once triggered, the larva sheds its outer layer of skin. As it does so, the imaginal discs assemble into the insect’s new, mature body.

During the pupal stage, insects remain inactive. The exception is some ant species, which can move around while in the pupal phase. These ants are sometimes referred to as “nymphs.”

The transformation from larva to adult can take a couple of weeks, a few months, or even a few years. It all depends on the temperature and the species. If it’s cold, the process will slow down considerably.

A few insect groups don’t have a pupal stage, such as cockroaches and crickets. In this case, the newly hatched nymph looks much like the adult insect it will eventually become. The only difference is that the adult nymph may have wings or reproductive organs. This type of nymph is sometimes called an object or exarate pupa. Other insect groups have functional mandibles that can cut their way out of the pupal cuticle, or adect their way out. These types of pupa are sometimes referred to as adect or exarate.

When it comes to damaging plants, grubs and beetles are the most destructive of all insects. The wormlike, legless larvae of these pests feed on the roots and other underground parts of the plant, causing severe crop damage. Once they reach maturity, the larvae either dig themselves into the soil for a prolonged hibernation or drop to the ground where they create oval pupal cells in the soil.

Adult Stage

The adult stage is the last of four pest stages and the one that usually causes the most damage. Adult insects are easy to spot and can be controlled with targeted insecticides and biological controls. However, interrupting the pest’s life cycle at the egg or larval stage is the best way to control the pest.

Some pests have incomplete life cycles, meaning that they hatch from eggs into nymphs which look similar to the adults and remain in this nymphal stage until they mature into adulthood. Insects with incomplete life cycles include the grasshopper, true bugs (stink bug and squash bug), and cabbage maggots. These insects injure plants by piercing and sucking juices or by chewing leaves and stems.

Other insects have complete life cycles, such as beetles and moths. These lay their eggs either singly or in groups, and the eggs hatch into grubs that feed on the roots, tubers, or leaves of the plant. After reaching maturity, grubs form a protective cocoon, which is called pupa, and the moth or beetle emerges into the adult stage.

These insects injure plants by chewing leaves and stems, sucking juices, or spreading diseases. Some, like the bean leaf beetle, cause significant crop losses. These beetles overwinter in or near crop residue and damage soybeans by feeding on the underside of the leaves, leaving rounded holes. They also attack the pods and may girdle the plant.

Other insects, such as aphids, mites, and gall midges, have complete life cycles and are easier to control than adults. The aphids are especially difficult to control once the populations reach an outbreak level. In addition, the aphids are often more difficult to control during hot and dry weather.

Some insects are perennial pests, meaning that they exist in some locations year after year, such as the plum curculio, flea beetles, and striped cucumber beetles. Others, such as the gypsy moth and cankerworms, have irregular boom and bust patterns. The fluctuations appear to be caused by factors such as weather, competition with other insects, and disease.