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Home > A Word About Pesticides

A Word About Pesticides

pesticide signpes-ti-cide: any substance used to kill, repel, or otherwise control a pest. Pesticides are often referred to by the type of pest they control: insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, and disinfectants (to name a few).


What You Should Know

Think how many pesticides exist around your home—in the garage, under the kitchen sink, or in the backyard shed. All-purpose insecticides for the garden, weed & feed for your lawn, indoor ant and roach sprays, outdoor foggers, insect repellents, flea & tick collars and shampoos, weed killer for the driveway—even chlorine bleach—all of these products are pesticides commonly found in homes.

Too often people think many pesticides are "safe" just because they can be purchased at the local hardware store, garden supply, or supermarket.

Absolutely not!

Pesticides are designed to be toxic. Each time you apply a pesticide there may be unintended consequences.  People (especially children and the elderly), pets and beneficial organisms may be affected.  Water quality and aquatic life may also be impacted by outdoor applications.  

To protect yourself and others, read and follow pesticide labels carefully. The label is a legal document that tells what pests the product controls and where it can be applied. Not following the label is actually a violation of federal law. The label also tells how to mix, store, and dispose of unused portions and empty containers. For garden use products, it says which crops can be treated and how long you must wait before picking a treated food crop.

It is wise to read the label before buying a pesticide, as well as before every application, even if you think you are familiar with the product. Don't rely on memory.

Always use the exact amount directed by the label (or less if it works) and under the conditions specified for the purpose listed. Using any pesticide in a way not consistent with the label is illegal and unsafe. Don't think double strength makes for a better product. It doesn't. Improper use increases risk. Of course, only use pesticides as a last resort.


Common Pesticides

Algicides—control algae in swimming pools, lakes, canals, and water used industrially or stored

Biocides—kill microorganisms

Disinfectants and Sanitizers—kill or inactivate disease-producing microorganisms (like bacteria and viruses) on inanimate objects

Fungicides—kill fungi (many infect and cause diseases in plants, animals, and people; examples: rusts, mildews, blights, and molds)

Fumigants—produce gas or vapor to destroy insects, fungi, bacteria, or rodents

Herbicides—kill weeds and other plants

Insecticides—kill insects

Miticides—kill mites that feed on plants and animals

Microbials—microorganisms that kill, inhibit, or out compete pests, including insects or other microorganisms

Molluscicides—kill snails and slugs

Nematicides—kill nematodes (microscopic, wormlike organisms that feed on plant roots)

Ovicides—kill eggs of insects and mites

Repellents—repel pests, including birds and insects

Rodenticides—control mice and other rodent pests


Want to Know More? More Information About Pesticides, Integrated Pest Management, Lawn and Garden Care, and More
It is the policy of the State of Maine to minimize reliance on pesticides. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine IPM Council encourage everyone to practice integrated pest management and to use pesticides only as a last resort. The mention of pesticides in the fact sheets linked to these pages does not imply an endorsement of any product. Be sure that any product used is currently registered and follow all label directions.