Less Toxic Gardening and Pest Control

Pesticides and Water Quality

More than half of pesticide use in California takes place in urban and suburban areas - in and around homes, schools, and businesses. Not only do pesticides pollute the air and soil, but they have also been detected in urban creeks and waterways throughout California, where they poison birds, fish, and other sensitive aquatic wildlife. In some locations water contaminated with pesticides can migrate from creeks and surface waters into drinking water wells.  

Chlorpyrifos and diazinon, organophosphate pesticides, have been banned for residential use because they are so toxic to humans and the environment. These pesticides were either replaced or reformulated using other chemicals ("active ingredients"), that also cause water quality problems, including pyrethroids, fipronil, imidacloprid, malathion, and carbaryl (Sevin). For more detailed information, read the Pesticides and Water Quality Fact Sheet.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on the long-term prevention of pests through the least toxic methods that include mechanical, biological, and chemical controls. Pesticides are used if only truly necessary. For more information about specific pests and how to control them using less toxic methods and products, check out the fact sheets at the bottom of this page.

Choosing Less Toxic Products

Many local hardware stores and nurseries offer less toxic pest control products and have been trained by Our Water Our World experts. Find a participating store location near you and use the Pocket Guide for Choosing Less Toxic Products.

Hiring a Pest Control Company

If you need professional services, look for someone who uses the least toxic methods and practices Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Pest control companies that aren’t IPM certified often have their green service options. Read the Hiring a Pest Control Company Fact Sheet for guidance in selecting a qualified pest control service.

Indoor Pests Fact Sheets

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Outdoor Pests Fact Sheets

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General Fact Sheets

Ladybug on Leaf Eating Aphids

Related Documents

Check out our videos on home remedy solutions for pest control!

                                                     When all else fails, ask The Gardening Expert!