What is Organic Pest Control?

With the popularity of Organic fruits, vegetables, meats, grocery stores, and restaurants, many families are interested in reducing chemical use around their homes as well. This post covers the differences in several pest control programs in use today, and answers common questions about Organic Pest Control.

Rather than going into a detailed post on what products are and are not approved for Organic Pest Control, let’s talk about the differences between “Green,” “Natural,” and “Organic.” Green pest control, eco-friendly pest control, natural pest control, and other friendly sounding terms are often used to describe pest control programs. Many people use services with these descriptions because they put a premium on safety and the environment, especially around and in their home. The sad truth is that while it may sound friendly, it may be nothing more than just slick marketing. Green, natural, and eco-friendly are all subjective terms and the actual products and practices will vary greatly.

At Scout Pest Control our regular pest control service is one we consider to be green. Being green for us is mostly about knowing we have a stewardship over our actions, and making our best effort to only target specific pests and doing it in the safest manner possible. Being green is more than just about product selection, it also has to do with physical controls like sweeping down spider webs to reduce spiders; recommending changing the type of exterior lights to avoid attracting pest problems; recommending trimming foliage back from homes by 18 inches and trees back at least 6 feet to reduce access for pests. Being green for us also has to do with training. We make sure to spend the time to train and educate each of our technicians to help them understand how products work, pest habitat and behavior, and potential concerns when using the various products. When choosing our products we focus on effectiveness and safety, using as many natural products and synthetic versions of natural products like pyrethroids. Pyrethroids are not approved for Organic Pest Control, but they are safe and effective when used following the label, and provide good residual control of pests.

There are two main regulatory groups that weigh in and regulate Organic Pest Control practices. The National Organic Programs (NOP) is affiliated with the USDA and lists the standards that need to be met to be organic-approved. There is also the OMRI, or Organic Materials Review Institute which is a private organization that reviews and determines whether products are NOP compliant. Organic Pest Control is highly regulated on what is and isn’t approved, and often on the uses and locations for which various products can be applied. Organic pest control has very specific allowances and prohibitions, and you should not confuse green, natural, or eco-friendly with organic. It should also be noted that while these standards are concerned with operations that produce or handle crops, livestock, or other agricultural products that will be represented as organic, Residential Organic Pest Control is essentially following the same rules and applying them to a home. Many of the brand names are different from what is used for agricultural pest control, but the active and inert ingredients still need fall within those rules.

Organic Pest Control has another element to it. For organic pest control the facility (or homeowner) MUST use good practices like: removing pest habitats, food sources, and breeding areas; exclusion to prevent pests from accessing the home or facility; and using cultural and mechanical control methods such as altering temperature, lighting, humidity, air circulation, physical traps, lures and repellents before using products that are consistent with the NOP regulations. As part of our residential Organic Pest Control program we recommend changes for homeowners to make that will reduce pest pressures and conducive conditions.

I know I’ve used way too many acronyms and long product names for one blog post, I hope this is helpful for anyone trying to make sense of modern pest control services. If you live in the Athens, Madison, or Huntsville area and you’re interested in, or have questions about our pest control service, or our organic pest control program we hope to hear from you! You can call, email, or use our website to get in touch with us.

– Jared Toone

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