The term “organic” has become the new buzzword for “safe,” however safe in the minds of most translates to “non-toxic.”
When referring to food, organic means the food is free of chemical additives or pesticides. In the pest management industry, organic could mean non-chemical approaches as well as using natural plant oils to address pest issues. The fact that these plant-based products break down naturally in our environment makes them very desirable.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Manual* defines a pesticide as “any substance or mixture of substances intended for the preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest, or intended for the use as a plant regulator, defoliant or desiccant.” Technically, this definition would also apply to organic materials as well. Therefore, organic materials are also toxic to the intended pest as well as to those that misuse them.
A drawback in using organic materials for pest management is that they break down quicker, resulting in more applications than materials traditionally used when treating heavy infestations or certain types of insects. Another downside is that some people may have allergic reactions to some of the natural plant oils.
On the other hand, the benefit of organic materials breaking down sooner is the fact that an individual’s exposure to this type of pesticide is limited. Typically, organic materials will disperse in 2-3 weeks depending on where and what types are applied. Traditional pesticides usually take about 6-7 weeks to break down.
In many cases, we are able to use organic applications in more sensitive areas such as playgrounds and schools. It’s these factors that would encourage a homeowner or business owner to choose the organic approach over the conventional.
The key to any approach is to review all of the information available in order to select the approach that’s best for you.
*NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Manual: Division of Solid & Hazardous Materials Article 33 and positions of Article 15 and 71 of the Environmental Conservation Law (November 2007)