Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Pests & Other Problems

Rose Curculios-1
They are as big as a man; they’re invisible. Some have fur, others feathers, maybe armored scales.  They creep, crawl, hop, jump, scamper, slither, fly – you name it.  And they’re generally things you don’t want around - that’s why they’re called pests. One definition of a pest is “a plant or animal detrimental to humans or human concerns (as agriculture or livestock production)”; another – “one that pesters or annoys; nuisance.”  Think about the things you generally regard as a pest around the house and garden - ants, rats, flies, snails, spiders, mosquitoes, fleas, gophers and moles, deer or weeds.  Those are the visible ones.  There are also the invisible microbes that cause disease and can wreak havoc in your garden.  They may all fit the description of something that you consider detrimental to you, your family, your pets or your plants – they’re pests. 

For just about every pest, there is an available product or method to eliminate it – they’re pesticides. Many people associate pesticides only with chemicals that eliminate insects. A pesticide is any material (natural, organic, or synthetic) that is used to control, prevent, kill, suppress, or repel pests. It is a broad term that includes fungicides (fungus killers), herbicides (weed or plant killers), insecticides (insect killers), products that kill snails and slugs (molluscicides) or rodents (rodenticides).  Most pesticides are designed to be toxic to their target pest and thus their use is strictly controlled.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and individual states register or license pesticides for use in the U.S. under the authority of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  States are also authorized under FIFRA and state pesticide laws and may place more restrictive requirements on pesticides than EPA.

Before you squish, stomp or spray your pests, it’s important to know your options for successful pest management.  There is a wide variety of different methods available today as you plan your control strategy.  More and more, there are non-chemical methods of control available that can be as effective and convenient as a chemical alternative.

Are you sure it is a pest that is causing your problem? More often than most people imagine, apparent damage is a result of other factors such as incorrect irrigation, poor drainage, herbicide toxicity, or physical damage. You don’t want to use a pesticide if it isn’t needed. 

The first and most significant step in pest management is to identify the pest. The list of categories below can help you to figure out what’s causing the problem, and offer recommendations for treatment.

Learn all you wanted to know - and more - about:

Webmaster Email: banielsen@ucanr.edu