There is a great deal of focus on the use of chemicals in pest control. Part of the concern is the overall residual effects of these chemicals on both human and environmental health. Several newer approaches are being studied and implemented such as the concept of pest management, which attempts to control pests with biological and mechanical methods in lieu of chemicals. However, there are still advantages to using chemicals for pest control.
There is a long history of using chemicals for pest control in agriculture. In fact, farmers are the strongest proponents for chemical pest control methods. There are several reasons for this. One of the main advantages of using chemical pest control in agriculture is cost. Protecting large growing areas from pest infestations is an expensive undertaking, and the cost in crop losses due to infestations is enormous as well. Farmers must spend a significant part of their operating capital each year to control insects, and broadcast spraying of chemicals is still the least expensive method to use. This includes the use of application machinery for the spraying, which only requires a small work force to operate. Both of these aspects do allow farmers to save money each year in their pest control efforts. Another advantage is that chemicals are readily available and are therefore priced lower than pest management control options, such as using natural insect enemies (biological control) and altering crops grown to fight pests (mechanical control). (Reference 1)
Variety of Chemicals for Pest Control
There are several different types of chemicals for pest control that provide a wide range of methods for treating infestations. This provides an advantage to those who must regularly control pests, and is also an economic advantage due to the ability to choose a lower-priced chemical over another when the situation calls for it. Systemic insecticides are a type of stomach poison that only targets the pest and not plants and animals in the environment. Insects ingest these chemicals when they consume the plants that have been treated, yet the host plant is not harmed. Another advantage in chemical usage is the variety of forms that the chemical is available in. this includes granules, aerosols, dusts, emulsifiable concentrates, and ultralow-volume concentrates. Any one of these is effective by itself, and they may be used in a combined application that lowers the overall cost of the process. (Reference 2)
Official Oversight and Review
Despite the growing resistance to chemical pest control methods, their use is continually authorised by governmental agencies and other organisations that regulate all pest control practices. These entities, in fact, do respond to public demand for a more integrated approach to pest control using safer methods. This is especially true for large agricultural applications. Organizations such as the World Health Organization and the food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations regularly review the safety of chemical compounds that are registered for pest control use. Grain storage is vulnerable to pest infestations each year, and the compounds used for this purpose are generally contact poisons that exhibit a low toxicity to mammals (including humans). Fumigants are generally the type of chemical used for grain storage situations. These are in a gas form, and as such they are the most effective at achieving a thorough permeation of stored grains if applied properly. This results in immediate mordancy of the targeted pests, which means that further application is not necessary. These are advantages to chemical pest control use. (Reference 3)