The US Department of Agriculture defines green pest control as “a service that employs an integrated pest management approach while utilizing fewer of the earth’s resources as part of a larger effort to reduce human impacts on the environment.” In layman’s terms this basically means safe, effective pest management with little to no impact on the environment and the customer’s health and home.

As the awareness of environmental impacts around the world increases, there is a shifting trend towards more green products and services, including pest control. But what is green pest control exactly? Does it eliminate the use of all chemicals? Is it completely natural? What all does it entail?

Green pest control focuses more on prevention rather then elimination because it is easier to keep pests from coming into your home than it is to get rid of them once they are in. The idea that green pest management only utilizes natural ingredients is a myth – sometimes chemicals are required to get rid of pest infestations. The difference with green methods is they use products that only target specific pests versus traditional chemicals that cover a broad range of pests. Moreover, some natural products can still be harmful if applied incorrectly or overabundantly.

Not all chemicals used in green pest control are bad for animals and humans. Green products use less harsh chemicals and are carefully applied so as not to use too much at one time. The idea is to use just enough to eliminate the nuisance pest. Some common green pest control methods include insect growth regulators (which only target insects and don’t harm any other organisms), baits, traps, and even boric acid.

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a large component of any green pest control program. IPM can cut back on the use of pesticides tremendously as it focuses on examining and eliminating environmental factors that allow pests to reproduce and thrive rather than just eliminating the pests themselves. In an IPM program, once the pest is properly identified, the quantity and severity of the infestation is determined and whether or not they are affecting the surrounding areas (whether it be in the home or outside). Appropriate pest control methods are then applied and the program continues with continuous communication and inspections going forward and prevention recommendations to prevent the pests from returning.

There is no easy fix for pest problems. Pest control requires an integrated approach with good communication between the service provider and the customer, preventative techniques employed by the customer (good sanitation, proper landscaping, using yellow exterior lightbulbs, etc), proper pest identification, and a systemic approach to identify and address entry points and attractants, appropriate elimination, and ongoing prevention.