Pest control is the regulation or management of a species defined as a pest, a member of the animal kingdom that impacts adversely on human activities. The human response depends on the importance of the damage done, and will range from tolerance, through deterrence and management, to attempts to completely eradicate the pest. Pest control measures may be performed as part of an integrated pest management strategy.
In agriculture, pests are kept at bay by cultural, chemical and biological means. Ploughing and cultivation of the soil before sowing reduces the pest burden and there is a modern trend to limit the use of pesticides as far as possible. This can be achieved by monitoring the crop, only applying insecticides when necessary, and by growing varieties and crops which are resistant to pests. Where possible, biological means are used, encouraging the natural enemies of the pests and introducing suitable predators or parasites.
In homes and urban environments, the pests are the rodents, birds, insects and other organisms that share the habitat with humans, and that feed on and spoil possessions. Control of these pests is attempted through exclusion, repulsion, physical removal or chemical means. Alternatively, various methods of biological control can be used including sterilisation programmes.
Biological pest control is a method of controlling pests such as insects and mites by using other organisms. It relies on predation, parasitism, herbivory or other natural mechanisms, but typically also involves an active human management role. Classical biological control involves the introduction of natural enemies of the pest that are bred in the laboratory and released into the environment. An alternative approach is to augment the natural enemies that occur in a particular area by releasing more, either in small, repeated batches, or in a single large-scale release. Ideally, the released organism will breed and survive, and provide long-term control. Biological control can be an important component of an integrated pest management programme.