When involved in an overall strategy for pest control and management, it is useful to look at every option that is available. Most specific methods of insect control can be classified into several major categories. Cultural control utilizes modification of standard practices on farms to control pests to make the environment unfavorable for them to flourish. One commonly used method is crop rotation in which one crop susceptible to a particular pest is rotated with another crop, which is not. For instance, corn root worm can be starved by rotating corn with one or two years of crops such as soya beans and alfalfa. Another method is sanitation, which means keeping the area clean up plants or materials which may shelter pests. The exclusion of weeds in greenhouses prevents mites from flourishing and the destruction of crops residue such as corn stubble removes wintering sites and the cleaning of farm equipment to prevent the spread of pests from one field to another are all examples of these practices.
Host or plant resistance in pest control has been used effectively for many years to minimize the damage caused by pests. Some plants are able to withstand pests or even kill them because they have been physically and chemically adapted to do this. These characteristics are improved in breeding, select resistant crops can be developed. Many important crops grown today, such as wheat and rice have been developed to offer resistance to pests. Historically, the development process was often long and tedious involving many generations, but modern biotechnology is working on methods to accelerate and compress the process. On the other hand, physical controls involve physical barriers between insect pests and their hosts. Examples of these barriers include window screens to keep unwanted pests outside greenhouses, floating row covers and plant collars. Traps can be used for physical control such as cockroach traps inside houses.
Mechanical controls in pest control work by the direct removal of the killing of pests. They can be quick and quite effective, but are suited for small size pest problems rather than large infestations. They are popular with gardeners and homeowners because they have little or no effect on natural enemies and other organisms which have not been targeted. They work best in combination with biological control in an integrated strategy. Cultivation can expose many insects in the soil to be eliminated by the lack of water or as food for birds. Hand picking works well in the case of brightly coloured pests and shaking plants can dislodge many pests that would otherwise stay put. Water sprayed strongly will get rid of aphids and mites from plants in the garden and the house. Mouse traps and fly swatters are also examples of this method of control.
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