Hefner, M. 2019, Tips for Lower-risk Pest Control, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, IP

Tips for Lower-risk Pest Control

Products are available that have less risk to the user and others. Select these whenever appropriate.

  • First, consider non-chemical control methods for your pest. Hand-picking insect pests is a tried-and-true control method that still works. A pesticide may not be needed.
  • If you need a pesticide, start with the lowest-risk product that will do the job.
  • Use sticky traps to reduce the number of insects.
  • Select products that have less risk to beneficial insects.
  • Consider diatomaceous earth to control soft-bodied insects.
  • Use horticultural oils to smother pests. There are different types, and some can only be applied to dormant plants. Make sure you read and follow the label directions.
  • When using insecticidal soaps to kill insects, be sure to coat surfaces thoroughly.
  • Botanical insecticides derived from plants are less toxic to mammals and birds.
  • Microbial insecticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) target specific types of insects and will not harm most beneficial insects, birds or animals. They must be eaten by the pests in order to kill them. Pick the right variety for your pest.
  • When using traditional products, apply a selective pesticide whenever possible.
Photo of a cup full of tomato hornworms

Control tomato hornworms the old-fashioned way.
Pick them off the plants and squash them.

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Also of Interest:

Protecting Pollinators/ Protegiendo a los Polinizadores
This bilingual (Spanish and English) publication describes how to protect pollinators during a pesticide application. It also describes native bees and provides additional resources for information. This is one of a series of 10 Pesticide Use and Safety/ Uso y Seguridad de Pestic...
Hefner, M., Kratsch, H., Fisher, J. and Schaerer, M.F. 2020, University of Nevada, Reno Extension Fact Sheet FS-20-10
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Applying IPM strategies: Insect control can be split into these five separate categories.
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Tips for Managing Insect Pests in the Landscape
Did you know that 99% of all insects are not harmful to you or your landscape? Determine which insects are helpful and head head off insect pests by following these tips:
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Tips for Managing Weeds
Use these tips to manage weeds and grow healthy, thriving plants in your yard
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Associated Programs

ladybug larva eating aphids on a pepper plant

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management program is a long-term management strategy that uses a combination of tactics to reduce pests to tolerable levels with potentially lower costs for the pest manager and minimal effect on the environment.


Extension Director's Office | On the campus of University of Nevada, Reno