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How to use pesticides at home safely and wisely

Homeowners are beginning an annual rite of spring, launching a major effort to get their yards in proper shape. Among the tools: pesticides.

Home-use pesticides are important and often necessary in the battle against unwanted plant pests and diseases.

“This is the time of the year when people get out in their yard,” said Dale Mitchell, assistant administrator of the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Division. “We want to make sure that if they have a pest problem and they are going to treat it themselves with a pesticide product, that they use those pesticides wisely and safely.”

Whether it is applying weed killer, slug bait, or bug spray, it’s always best to start by taking some time to think about what has to be done before you actually do it.

“Number one, identify the pest that is the problem,” says Mitchell. County extension offices, ODA’s Plant Division, or even your local library all have resources to help you figure out what pest is literally bugging you. That’s important because each pesticide product lists the specific insects it is designed to control. The product label clearly states what the pesticide is to be used for. The most important source of information is the product label itself.

The label tells you not only what pests the product takes care of, but it gives you special precautions. It spells out what steps you need to take to protect yourself and others during application. Reading the label will guide you through the proper method of handling the pesticide. It tells you how to mix the product. Some products may be already mixed but most need to be diluted before application. The label also tells you when to apply the product. Some pesticides require dry conditions, others do fine even if it rains afterwards.Once the pesticide has been applied, it’s time for storage or disposal of the unused product.

Where can you find information on storage and disposal? You guessed it, the product label. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is another source, especially when it comes to pesticide disposal.

For more information, contact Dale Mitchell at 503-986-4646.

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