Community Education on Environment and Development

Avoid pesticides

Pesticides can be harmful for your family and the environment

Scientists have found 23 pesticides (weed and bug killers) in our local streams, many at levels that may damage salmon and other wildlife (1). Overuse of these products can also damage soil and plant health. And studies find increased health risks among families that use lawn and garden pesticides, especially among pets and children.

Begin with prevention

Healthy plants naturally resist diseases and pests. Help your plants defend themselves by building healthy soil, putting them in locations where they can thrive, pulling weeds before they can go to seed, and cleaning up diseased plants to reduce the risk of spread. A little patience sometimes pays off.

Accept a little damage.

Natural predators often bring pest problems under control, but they need time to work. Don't spray at the first sign of damage - nature may control it for you, or plants may just outgrow the damage.

Identify the problem, before you spray, squash or stomp. The problem could be incorrect mowing or pruning, improper watering or other easily corrected practices. Or that scary bug could actually be a beneficial "good bug" that eats problem pests.

Whether it's a bug, disease or weed, you need to identify it to know how to effectively manage it.  Choose from the following:

Use least-toxic remedies first

If a pest or weed problem develops, use the least toxic remedy:

Beneficial insects and organisms

By supporting populations of beneficial insects in your yard, you can help keep pests under control the natural way.

(Visit this online Good Bug Guide)

Least-toxic chemicals

You can choose these chemical remedies that control pests without causing harm to beneficial insects, your family, or the environment. These chemicals are either harmless or break down quickly into harmless components.  Click here to discover what Physical remedies there are.

It may be best to have a professional who has all the protective gear do the application, but don't use services that spread chemicals over the whole yard or spray on a calendar schedule.

Replace problem plants with pest-resistant ones

If a plant, even a tree, has insect pest or disease problems every year, it's time to replace it with a more tolerant variety, or another type of plant that doesn't have these problems.

Ref 1: Pesticides Detected in Urban Streams During Rainstorms and Relations to Retail Sales of Pesticides in King County, Washington, U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 097-99.

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