Safeguarding Communities: The Critical Need for Effective Pest Management Strategies

Pests spread germs and bacteria that can make you sick through bites, droppings or contact. They can also exacerbate existing health problems like allergies and asthma.

Monitor and evaluate the presence of pests to determine if they require control. Use only pesticides that are designed for the specific pest and apply them according to label instructions. For more information, check out Pest Control Knoxville TN.



Rodents, a diverse group of mammalian animals that includes squirrels, chipmunks, beavers, mice and rats, make up 40% of all mammals. They are found worldwide and live in a variety of habitats. Their unifying feature is a pair of sharp, curved incisors that are optimized for gnawing and chewing. They can also squeak to communicate with one another and have highly developed senses of sight, smell and touch. Some species are pests, destroying habitat and spoiling food stores, while others are important to the ecosystem as natural predators of other wildlife and scavengers of dead animals and plants.

Rodents can become a nuisance to humans when they invade homes and businesses, ruining property and creating a health risk through the spread of diseases that they carry. In addition, they can damage crops and create fire hazards from gnawing and chewing at electrical wires. Rodents can be managed as part of an Integrated Pest Management program with traps, bait stations, and exclusion tactics that stop them from finding entry points into buildings and relocating them to new areas.

Using traps rather than poisons to control rodents is safer and more effective. It gives you clear verification that the rodent has been caught and allows for a more humane treatment of the animal. It also reduces the odor of decaying rodents that can build up in walls and other out-of-the-way places, as well as the risk of exposure to children, pets, and other non-target animals. In addition, traps allow for a more environmentally sound treatment plan with the use of non-toxic baits and repellents, such as peppermint oil and eco-friendly ultrasonic devices.

Rats and mice can enter a home or business through small holes, cracks or gaps around pipes, vents, and windows. Sealing these spaces and regularly inspecting the home can prevent rodent infestations. Other preventive measures include storing food and water in sealed containers, keeping compost piles far away from the house, and avoiding the planting of ivy that can form “rat ladders” up to roofs and into attics.

Many rodents are useful to humans by providing a food source, fur for apparel and insulation, as test animals for biomedical and genetic research, and even as household pets. However, some rodents, such as the brown rat and the mouse, are serious pests, spoiling food, contaminating stored products, and spreading diseases.


Insects are the largest group of animals, with about a million described species, or types. They are hexapod invertebrates that have three-part bodies (head, thorax and abdomen), wings and three pairs of jointed legs. Insects are found in a variety of habitats on Earth, including the Arctic, tropics, deserts and caves. Most insects eat plants or other insects, and some are harmful to humans and animals. Insects sting or bite, and many spread disease-causing pathogens. Some destroy crops, damage forests and greenery, and infest homes and businesses. Examples of insects that are pests include Mediterranean fruit flies, gypsy moths, fire ants, termites and mosquitoes.

In a natural environment, insect populations are controlled by predators, parasites and herbivores. When these natural enemies are destroyed by pesticides, insect densities increase and the insects become a nuisance or damaging crop pest. This is why a comprehensive pest control program includes conservation of natural enemies as well as the use of chemical methods.

Classic biological control involves the introduction of natural enemies of a particular pest into the environment, either through mass release in the wild or through small-scale releases in controlled situations such as greenhouses. Care is taken to select natural enemies that are adapted to the life cycle, physiology and defenses of the pest, as well as to the site where they will be released.

The success of a biological control program depends on monitoring for the presence of the enemy, and removing the pests as soon as they appear. For outdoor pests, this means examining traps and other monitoring devices on a regular basis throughout the growing season. For indoor environments, a pest control program should include regular inspections and maintenance of food storage areas, garbage receptacles and vents to prevent the entry of unwanted creatures.

Insects are remarkably adaptable, and many use a variety of strategies to avoid capture or death. Behaviors range from the almost inert parasitic forms that lie in the nutrient bloodstreams of their host plants, to dragonflies that pursue prey in the air, and predaceous water beetles that outswim their prey.


When people think of pests, cockroaches and rodents tend to come to mind. But birds can be a major nuisance too, especially when they gather in large numbers around buildings and cause property damage or pose health risks for building occupants. Controlling pest birds is an important part of any facility maintenance program, and a proactive approach is needed before the problem becomes unmanageable.

Birds that impact facilities can include pigeons, sparrows, geese, and European starlings, among others. All these species flock in significant numbers and can damage the appearance of structures, block ventilation, cover security cameras, clog vents, deteriorate materials like metals and paints, and create other problems. In addition, their droppings are high in uric acid and can eat through roofing materials, erode concrete and steel, and contaminate food and water sources.

Depending on the species and the environment, different types of deterrents are available to prevent bird infestations. Visual deterrents, such as predatory decoys that mimic natural predators, are a non-lethal option that can be effective when placed in areas where birds commonly gather, such as on plaza decks. Audio deterrents, such as sound devices that emit ultrasonic sounds that frighten and disorient birds, can also be used in places where visual deterrents are not suitable.

For some species, trapping and euthanasia may be necessary. However, a proactive approach to prevention is a more efficient and cost-effective way to deal with bird infestations. Many architects and engineers now incorporate pest management plans into new facility designs to reduce the need for traps and chemicals.

Generally, the best strategy for bird pest control is to eliminate as many conducive conditions as possible around and within a facility. This can be achieved by eliminating all traces of food, water and shelter from the immediate area, as well as reducing the presence of any areas that attract birds (i.e. near a public landfill, sewage treatment plant or raw material mill). When these measures are not enough to discourage pest bird populations, the next step should be to use a comprehensive trapping and removal procedure to eliminate birds as quickly and safely as possible.

Other Small Creatures

Animals, like raccoons, opossums, squirrels, chipmunks and groundhogs, can become pests as they seek shelter or food in and around homes. Usually these animals are found outdoors but they can also rummage through garbage or set up residence in crawl spaces, attics and wall voids. They can cause damage to plants, trees and structures and may carry bacteria and parasites that are harmful to humans and pets.

Animals can be continuous pests that arc nearly always present and require regular control. They can also be sporadic or migratory and may only need control at certain times of the year. They may be predicted based on their natural history, climate, food availability and the presence of predators and other factors that affect their populations.

The activity of other small creatures often goes unnoticed because they are so common and are essential to nature. Insects, for example, pollinate many of the flowering plants we depend on for food and beauty. They also decompose waste, provide food for birds and other animals and help to spread soil nutrients.

Rodents like rats and mice are omnivorous and eat seeds, grains and fruits. They can also chew electric wires and lead to fires in homes. They can also carry diseases such as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, leptospirosis and plague. Other small creatures that can be pests include ticks and fleas, which carry and transmit disease through bites.

Mole problems are widespread in yards and gardens. In the Pacific Northwest we have four separate mole species, the Coast Mole (Scapanus orarius), the Broad-handed Mole (Scapanus latimanus) and the Townsend Mole (Scapanus townsendi). They are known for their volcano-like, hill-shaped mole-hills and feed on earthworms, soil insects and grubs that they dig up while tunneling. Occasionally they will sample bulbs, root crops and sprouting seeds but most plant damage blamed on moles is really caused by meadow voles.