The first step in pesticide safety is proper identification of the specific pest. Then, determine the various control options for that pest.

Use cultural and mechanical controls whenever possible. Use pesticides only when other control methods are not available to do the job. Many new low-toxicity and organic pesticides are becoming readily available. Some examples include:

SunSpray Ultrafine Oil for control of aphids, spider mites and powdery mildew; Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) for caterpillars; Insecticidal Soap; Pyrethrum; diatomaceous earth for slugs, snails etc. Use these when appropriate.


1. For all products, follow written directions on container – it’s the law.

2. Mix up only enough for the job. Don’t store chemicals mixed with water -changes will occur.

3. Store in a cool, dry place out of reach of children.

4. Buy only enough product to be used in one year and dispose of the container according to directions.

5. If chemical pesticide or solution contacts the skin or pets, carefully wash the area with soap and water. Wash clothes separately after treatment.

The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Texas Cooperative Extension or the Master Gardeners is implied.

Mac McKennon, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


The Environmental Protection Agency requires full labeling of pesticides in order to give notice to the user of their correct use to protect humans and to protect the environment as well as to inform the user that liability may ensue if the product is not properly use.

Formerly, the statement “NOTICE-buyer assumes all responsibility for safety and use not in accordance with directions” appeared on products in an attempt to limit the liability of the manufacturer. Now, even on such products as Lysol Disinfectant Spray, which is used in the home as well as in hospitals for eliminating odors and sanitizing surfaces, the label states, “It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.”

We have all heard of protection for the workers, such as mandating the wearing of protective clothing, and the sanctions by governmental agencies for pollution of air and water, such as oil spills. But progressing a giant step farther, the E.P. ACT provides that any citizen may institute suit against any violator, private individual or corporation. So your neighbor may sue you for damage to himself or property inflicted by your misuse of a pesticide.

Watering ordinances have subjected the homeowner to fines; and in the recent California electricity crisis, we have seen the establishment of “wattage cops” who give tickets to homeowners for unauthorized use of electricity. So it is not unforeseeable that there could be a “pesticide patrol” established to monitor home owners’ use of pesticides not in accordance with the label and issue citations accordingly.

Gardeners, read and follow the instructions on the label.

Jon LeBleu, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Pests and Pesticides