These chemicals come in many different forms ranging from dry powders to squeezable gels. Many options are available at hardware stores for anyone to purchase, but there are also a lot that require special licenses to obtain and apply. Read up on what is available to you and the requirements for each option. Safe handling and use are extremely important for all pesticides.
When considering chemical control of your pests the first step is to research the pest and talk to an expert in the field. Make sure that your pest is in fact a pest and not a protected species or native species that is biologically important to your area. If the infestation is large, hiring a professional may be the best choice for getting it under control.
Understanding pesticide labels is very important for safe handling and use. These labels can often seem extremely complex and complicated. Herbicide labels, for example could be very lengthy listing each plant it controls. While this information is important, there are a few pieces of information that are more important to focus on for general household use. They are the warning words, the personal protective equipment (PPE), safety recommendations, environmental hazards, directions for use/application rates, re-entry interval (REI), and storage/disposal. Generally these will all be on the label, but they may be worded differently or arranged differently from one label to the next. It is important to become familiar with each section.
Warning words include from least lethal to most lethal: Caution, Warning, Danger, Danger-Poison. They indicate the LD-50 of the chemicals that make up the pesticide. If there is no warning word present it is likely less dangerous than “Caution” thus not requiring a warning word. LD-50 is the measure of amount ingested that killed 50% of the test subjects. This is usually expressed as milliliter of chemical per kilogram of body weight. This section will also usually mention what to do in the case of exposure.
PPE and safety recommendations detail the clothing and safety gear needed to handle and apply the pesticide (long sleeves, gloves, respirators, ect.) as well as how to deal with clothing that is exposed and how to cleanup after application.
Environmental hazards discusses any potential risks to the environment such as if the chemicals affects fish, birds, and bees.
Directions for use and application rates are very important sections because they give the specifics on how to properly apply the pesticides. One common misconception is that more is better. While this may be true for many things, it is not true for pesticides. The application rates on the label are scientifically calculated. They are designed to adequately affect the pest without wasting chemicals. One example is over application of herbicides. Spraying extra round-up on your dandelions will only burn the leaves off the plant and not likely get drawn all the way into the plant’s roots killing the whole plant.
REI is the timeframe needed to wait until it is safe to return to the area where the pesticide was applied. For spay-able pesticides this is often until the spray has dried. Be sure to double check the label before you let anyone near the area, this includes pets!
Storage and disposal explain the environment needed to store the pesticide and how to dispose of excess chemical and empty containers. Check your local area for hazardous material collection facilities and community collection days. Do not dispose of pesticides down the drain or in the trash unless directed to do so by the label.
Safe use is extremely important. These chemicals can be very dangerous. Be sure to consider pets, children, and wildlife when applying. Rodent bait blocks are very attractive to children and pets. Keep all pesticides out of reach from children. Try to avoid long-term storage of large amounts. Read the label and understand all the warnings and directions before use. Safety is number 1.