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Use Pesticides Properly

Chances are you have a few pesticides tucked away in the garage or in the storage shed. Is it time to use them up or throw them away?

Spring and fall are typically the times when we see the most insect and pest activities. They are either coming in for water and warmth or migrating back outdoors for increased meal selection. You may see ants, a few mice, or - worst of all - termites in the midst of a swarm.

When we do see pests, our first inclination is to head to the home improvement store and purchase some type of control.

However, it may be wise to research non-chemical methods first. When you must make a commercial choice, you'll find many applications available for average consumer use, which may cause confusion. Plus, the instructions are usually included in tiny print, which confounds the issue. Among these, you'll see powders, sprays, wetting agents, baits, and granule systems.

The first step is to choose the product that is designed to do the job properly. Read labels carefully and be sure you understand them before making the purchase. If you see the term "broad-spectrum" on the label, that means it can be used on a group of particular pests. Choose the least dangerous type of pesticide; these will be marked in a range from "Caution" - the least toxic for humans - to "Warning," "Danger," and "Danger-Poison." The last notation will be found only on professional products. If you see an older container that states Danger-Poison, you probably should not use it without expert consultation.

When you are making a purchase, check the label to see what type of protective gear is needed. If you don't have it, buy it; those requirements are in place for a reason. Do not buy bargain-sized containers of any product unless you're sure all of it will be used within a season. If you have leftovers, offer them to a neighbor rather than storing them, if possible. For storage, place on a high shelf and out of reach of children. Check often for leakage.

When you are reusing a product after several weeks or months, always re-read the instructions. Use the proper amount so you won't have to dispose of mixes. When precise ingredients are needed, keep an old measuring cup and set of spoons available. Rinse them thoroughly and label them with a waterproof marker.

When preparing a pesticide, always work outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. If you have a spill on concrete, soak it up with kitty litter, sawdust, or vermiculite first and then sweep. Be cautious about tracking pesticides indoors on shoes.

When you are ready to dispose of an empty container, read the instructions (again). Do not be tempted to pour chemicals into storm sewers, down the kitchen sink, or into the toilet. Follow the manufacturer's directions exactly unless you are aware of city ordinances that allow otherwise. When in doubt, check your city's web site or place a call to learn about proper disposal procedures.

You may also be able to use these methods before adding to regular trash:
-Fill a heavy-duty plastic bag with absorbent material and then add the liquid.
-Empty a spray can into a closed bag (leave the can inside and seal before spraying).
-Allow paint to harden completely and close lid.
-Wrap container in several layers of newspaper and seal with tape.

Always keep in mind that animals may also be affected by pesticides. That includes not only the family pets but beneficial insects and birds. Use any chemical with great care and consult an expert for more serious infestations such as termites.




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