Our garden plants and lawns are under constant assault by many pests. Frequently homeowners use pesticides to control their populations and damage. They are poisons designed to kill living organisms. Improper usage can cause serious harm. The most critical component of safely applying pesticides is following all label direction and safety precautions required by the law.

The label will have pertinent information on the proper usage of the pesticide. It will give instructions on the appropriate application techniques, where it can be used, when, how much, and how often, the application rate, and safety measures.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we hear the term personal protective equipment (PPE) in the news. When applying pesticides, the proper PPEs are listed on the label. Examples include the use of chemical-resistant gloves and footwear, facial protection, and other ones.

Where can the pesticide be applied? Is it labeled for outside use only, or can it be used indoors? Several cases of insecticides labeled for outdoor use applied to the interior of homes and businesses have resulted in severe illnesses and even fatalities.

What does the label say about the type of plant material the pesticide can be applied? Some will allow for applications on turfgrasses and ornamental trees and shrubs but not vegetables. Certain turfgrass herbicides are for use on some types of grasses but not others. For example, the herbicide atrazine is used only on centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass, but not allowed on others. Doing so will harm or kill the grass.

Take into account of environmental conditions. Extremely hot temperatures can lead to vaporization that can harm desirable plants. Applying pesticides on windy days can cause drift to occur. For example, if you are putting out Round Up for weed control in a bed of ornamental trees and shrubs, the wind could cause it to drift, causing damage to the plants.

For example, I have seen cases on crape myrtles that have come into contact with Round Up having distorted foliage. Temperature is another consideration. Frigid weather may cause the chemical to be ineffective, while excessive heat can harm the plant material. For example, some selective turfgrass herbicides can damage or kill the grass if the temperature is above 85 degrees.

How much of the pesticide should be applied, and how often? The label will give the application rate. If it says to use only four ounces of the chemical per one gallon, that does not mean use eight-ounce. If it says to apply once a month, then once a week, applications are not allowed. More is not better and is detrimental.

Make sure all pesticides are out of reach of children and pets. When applying, make sure they are out of the way. The label will say how long to stay out of the area after application. For food plants, it will indicate how long you must wait before harvesting.

Again the pesticide label is the most essential aspect of pesticide usage. By following it, you can reduce the risks of their potential harm while increasing their effectiveness at controlling the pests.

Please check my blog out: http://gardeningingwinnett.blogspot.com/. It has information on a variety of horticultural topics and is updated frequently.

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Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett. He can be contacted at 678-377-4011 or tdaly@uga.edu.


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