What Are Plant-Based Methods Used by Pest Control Companies? 

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a program that includes sanitation, proper cultural practices, mechanical controls, and the use of resistant plant varieties. Using these methods in conjunction with a chemical pesticide can be an effective strategy for controlling pests and improving the health of the environment and your plants. 

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Physical or Biorational Methods 

Some pests can be controlled by removing them physically from the plant. For example, aphids and mites can be knocked off by spraying the plant with water. Insecticidal soaps and oils can be applied to repel or kill pest insects. 

These products are less toxic to nontarget organisms than conventional chemicals and are especially helpful when used in an IPM program. However, they must be used carefully to have the greatest impact on the pest population. They also may need to be applied more frequently. 

Biological Control 

Many species of plants and animals can suppress or kill pest populations by feeding on them. Likewise, some pathogens and parasites can do the same thing. 

Biological control also can be supplemented by other means, such as the release of more of the natural enemies or new enemies that were not in the area before. This type of control does not usually result in eradication, but it can reduce the pest population to a level that is no longer harmful to your plants or other organisms. 

Weather Conditions 

Temperature, day length, and humidity affect the activity of a pest. Rain, freezing temperatures, and drought can also make it difficult for a pest to thrive. Other environmental factors, such as mountains, lakes, and streams, can help to limit the movement of pests by limiting their food supply or providing shelter. 

Landscape Features 

The location of a treatment site influences the amount of damage that pests can cause. Changing the landscape can help control pests by limiting their ability to spread and by reducing the availability of food, shelter, and water. 

Climate Change 

Agricultural production in the current world is challenged by global market competition, increased food safety standards, new and invasive pests and diseases, and environmental and public demands. These challenges have led to a growing need for more sustainable approaches to pest management. 

These strategies, often called ecological pest management, are aimed at achieving pest control goals without the use of synthetic chemicals. By combining the activity of nature-based compounds with pesticide use when necessary, ecological pest management can significantly reduce pesticide usage. 


A team of researchers including a University of Nebraska-Lincoln biochemist has developed a low-cost process to produce pheromones that can be used to control insects in food crops. This study can facilitate environmentally friendly methods for protecting fruit and vegetable crops that are facing an increased risk of insect attack. 

The development of this research project is supported by the Department of Energy through a grant to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The research is also sponsored by the USDA Office of Agricultural Sustainability and led by the National Center for Appropriate Technology.