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A Quick Guide to Pesticides

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Caring for your lawn and yard isn’t always easy. It requires dedication, care, and patience. Pesticides are an often used tool in yard maintenance to help keep your plants and lawn look beautiful and pest free. There’s a lot of discussion surrounding pesticides and how they work. Lawn service companies often rely on pesticides to keep pests from wreaking havoc on clients’ yards. 

What is a Pesticide? 

“A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for: preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest, use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant, or use as a nitrogen stabilizer,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They work by discouraging or killing off pests. They can be extremely harmful which is why they are regulated so strictly. 

There are two federal statutes regulating pesticides: the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). FIFRA works by:

  • Regulating the sale, distribution, and use of pesticides
  • Authorizing the EPA to review pesticides and register them for their specific intended use
  • Allowing the EPA to suspend or cancel a pesticide’s registration if it is proven that continued use would pose a threat or unreasonable risk to people, animals, plants, or the environment.


Pesticides are a combination of two different types of ingredients: active and inert. Active ingredients must be identified by name on the pesticide’s label along with its percentage by weight. They work by preventing, repelling, mitigating, or destroying pests. They may also work as a plant regulator, nitrogen stabilizer, defoliant, or desiccant. Active ingredients are separated into several categories.


  • Biopesticides – These ingredients are derived from natural materials.
  • Antimicrobial – These ingredients are substances or mixtures of substances that can destroy or suppress the growth of harmful microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, or fungi, on surfaces. 
  • Conventional – These are all the other ingredients that are not considered antimicrobial or biopesticides.


Inert ingredients are the other ingredients that make up the pesticides. They can be chemicals, compounds, and other types of substances such as natural materials like cellulose or beeswax or food commodities like herbs or edible oils. They help make the pesticide usable and ensure they perform properly. Before an inert ingredient can be included in a pesticide, it must be approved by the EPA but they are not required to be listed on the pesticide’s label. Inert ingredients work by:


  • Preventing the pesticide from caking or foaming, making application easier.
  • Helping the active ingredient to penetrate a plant’s surface
  • Protecting the pesticide from degrading due to sun exposure
  • Extending the pesticide’s shelf-life

Are Pesticides Dangerous?

There is a lot of talk surrounding pesticides and their safety. Many articles point to studies that try to prove that pesticides are dangerous, while others try to prove that they aren’t. Pesticide research is important. It lets agencies like the EPA and other researchers know what pesticides could be doing to people and the environment so they can keep a watchful eye. It also pushes them to keep developing new forms of pesticides that are safer and more effective.

The science surrounding pesticides is complicated. Many of the studies that show pesticides as being harmful tend to look at correlations and not the causation of the harm. They are unable to prove that exposure to pesticides is the cause of the issues detected. 

Pesticides are a type of chemical that can definitely be dangerous when applied incorrectly. It’s always a great idea to trust professionals to handle pesticides for you. They have special training and tools that can help protect you and the environment.

Choose Lawngevity For Your Lawncare Needs

Since opening our business in 1988, we have been helping provide the best lawn care in Salt Lake City. Our specialty-trained and licensed technicians can help you maintain a beautiful yard with our tree and shrub care and foundation insect control services. We also offer grass fertilizer services to keep your turf lush and green. To find out more about our services and schedule your first visit, call us today at 801-618-2785.

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