- Author: Lauren Fordyce
Did you know that disinfectants and sterilizers are pesticides? Any substance that claims to kill, destroy, prevent, or repel a pest, including germs, is considered a pesticide. So cleaning products that claim to sterilize or kill germs on surfaces or be effective against bacteria like E. coli or others, must be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA ensures pesticide products are effective and do not pose unreasonable risks to consumers when used according to the label, among other things. Recently, the EPA settled a lawsuit against Grocery Outlet Inc. for selling unregistered cleaning products claiming to be disinfectants and sterilizers. To know whether a product is a registered pesticide, look for the EPA registration number on the label. As with any pesticide product, always read and follow the label so the product can be used as safely and effectively as possible.
UC IPM is committed to educating the public on pesticides and their alternatives. View some of UC IPM's resources about antimicrobial pesticides and pesticide safety below, as well as in-depth resources from the U.S. EPA.
- What You Need to Know About Disinfectant Wipes (blog post)
- Using Disinfectants and Sanitizers Safely (blog post)
- Disinfectants are pesticides–so use safely! (blog post)
- What to Wear When Using Pesticides (blog post)
- EPA Registered Disinfectants (webpage)
- About Pesticide Registration (webpage)
- Using Disinfectants and Wipes Safely (webinar)
- What is a Pesticide? (video)
- Why do you need to read the pesticide label? (video)
Some pest problems can be easily handled at home yourself. But if your pest issue is a bit more serious, or you don't have the time or tools to address it yourself, hiring a pest control company might be your best option. Pest management professionals are trained in pest control regulations and methods as well as the principles of integrated pest management (IPM). They can accurately identify your pest and get rid of the problem safely and effectively. While their services may seem costly, the investment can actually save you time and money in the long term.
Before hiring a pest control company, try to do some research on your suspected pest and its management. Consult the UC IPM Pest Notes for help with identification and management to see what control options are available. When you contact a pest control company, prepare yourself to ask about these options and whether they provide IPM services like monitoring, pest exclusion, baiting, trapping, and reduced-risk (less toxic) pesticides.
For detailed steps and questions to ask when hiring a pest control company, consult the newly revised Pest Notes: Hiring a Pest Control Company authored by UC IPM advisors Siavash Taravati, Andrew Sutherland, and UCCE advisor Darren Haver.
- Author: Saoimanu Sope
Sugar-feeding ants protect pests that infect trees and damage the fruit they bear. Insecticides are often a go-to solution, but may kill beneficial insects in the process, too. Thankfully, Mark Hoddle, University of California Cooperative Extension entomologist and biological control specialist at UC Riverside, together with UCR colleagues in chemical engineering, developed a biodegradable hydrogel baiting system that targets ant populations, which protect sap-sucking pests from their natural enemies. Control of ants allows beneficial parasitoids and predators to greatly reduce pest populations.
Deciding to expand Hoddle's research was a “no-brainer” according to David Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Kern County.
Haviland is investigating active ingredients that can be effectively used in hydrogel baiting systems. His research builds on Hoddle's use of alginate gels, also known as water beads, soaked in sugar water to control Argentine ants.
“What we're doing in California can benefit places like Florida, Texas, Mexico and beyond,” Haviland said.
The Hoddle lab conducted two years of orchard research showing that when ants are controlled, the amount of citrus flush infested with Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), a mottled brown insect that vectors the pathogen causing citrus greening, decreases by 75%. Citrus flush refers to newly developed leaves.
“But benefits are not restricted to just ACP with Argentine ant control, as natural enemies destroy colonies of other sap-sucking pests too,” said Hoddle. “For example, citrus mealybug infestations on leaves were completely eliminated by natural enemies, 100% control, while densities of fruit infested by mealybugs were reduced by 50%.”
The Hoddle lab's success inspired Haviland to consider how this approach will fare in different regions of the state where there are different crops, different pests and different ant species.
Haviland has worked for many years on solid baits that are effective and affordable for ants that feed primarily on protein, like fire ants in almonds, but successful control measures for sugar-feeding ants that drink their food have been elusive.
“Therefore, we're using hydrogels to essentially turn a liquid bait into a solid, making it effective and commercially adoptable,” Haviland said. He and his team are assessing whether active ingredients that undoubtedly work against ants, like thiamethoxam, maintain their effects in a hydrogel system.
Unlike Hoddle's biodegradable alginate gels, Haviland is relying on acrylamide gels that are similar to the absorbing material you would find in a diaper. These gels are not organic, but are currently accessible on a commercial scale, and have been shown to be effective in wine grapes on the North Coast by a Cooperative Extension advisor in Napa County, Monica Cooper. Haviland's current research efforts are focused on citrus, table grapes and wine grapes in the San Joaquin Valley, and on lemons on the coast.
The primary challenge now is navigating pesticide regulations and registration.
“This is cutting-edge research,” Haviland said, and manufacturer labels for the products being used need to be updated to include hydrogels as an approved use. This process takes time. Additionally, adding new product uses needs to make economic sense for the manufacturer.
Hoddle and Haviland's research can provide data for adding these methods to the product labels.
“If we can show that this tech works against lots of pests, lots of ant species, in lots of different crops across California, hopefully we'll achieve a critical mass of benefits that motivates product manufacturers to make modifications to their labels,” said Haviland.
Haviland is hopeful about the process, and said he believes that UC ANR is in a prime position to lead innovation for an issue that requires collaboration among specialists, advisors and the industry.
- Author: Cheryl Reynolds
Are you in need of some last-minute CEUs for 2022? We're pleased to announce that a new online course on runoff and surface water protection is available and offered for free. If you are a pest management professional working primarily in structural pest control or landscape maintenance, then this course is for you! Developed by pest management experts from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the University of California, this course presents information on the Surface Water Protection Regulations that are found in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations sections 6970 and 6972. These regulations were put into place to prevent pesticide runoff into California waterways and to reduce surface water contamination from pyrethroid insecticide use. In this course, you'll learn about the types of pesticide applications that are allowed under the regulations as well as application types that are prohibited and also application types that are exempt. The course takes a close look at pyrethroids, particularly bifenthrin because of its high use in urban areas, high detection in surface waters, and high toxicity to aquatic organisms. Fipronil, another commonly used ingredient in structural and landscape products, is addressed in the course as well because it has similar water-quality concerns as the pyrethroids. Specific label restrictions of bifenthrin and fipronil products in California are also discussed.
The Urban Pyrethroid and Fipronil Use: Runoff and Surface Water Protection course has been approved by DPR for a total of 1.5 continuing education units (CEUs), including 0.5 hour of Laws and Regulations and 1.0 hour of Other; and by the Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB) for 1.5 hours of Rules and Regulations.
UC IPM currently offers 22 other online courses with continuing education units from DPR. Many of our courses are also credited by the California Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB), Certified Crop Adviser (CCA), the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (WCISA), and the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
In addition to our newest course, this year we are offering another course for free: Providing IPM Services in Schools and Child Care Settings.
Don't forget that if you are a license or certificate holder with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and your last name begins with the letters A through L, then this is your year to renew. DPR encourages all license holders to send in renewals as soon as possible. If you have specific questions about renewal with DPR, please see their new Licensing Renewal Information page.
Do you have general questions about our online courses and DPR and SPCB CEUs and want them answered live?
Join us on Zoom December 6. Drop in anytime between 3 and 4pm (PST).
Meeting ID: 984 3730 0331
- Author: Lauren Fordyce
With Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV) on the rise, and Covid-19 and the flu remaining constant worries, disinfectant products are more and more likely to be used in the home, office, school, restaurant, and other public areas. Though these products are useful in reducing harmful pathogens, they are also capable of harming us when used incorrectly.
You may not think twice when spraying a surface with a disinfectant or using a disinfectant wipe without wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Disinfectant products ARE pesticides, so check the label to see if you should be wearing gloves or other protective equipment.
To learn more about safe use of disinfectants and wipes, watch the recording from our most recent webinar with Meredith Cocks from the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC).
Be sure to check out the UC IPM webinars planned for 2023 and register for these free, educational events!