What is a pesticide?

Pesticide being applied to a field

The public is becoming increasingly concerned about the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. Protecting water and the environment is a key element of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP). It is essential that pesticide applicators understand all aspects of the pesticides they use in order to properly manage them. Whether you want to learn more about protecting human health, the environment, becoming certified and licensed, or improving your bottom line UNL Extension PSEP can help!

What is a pesticide? A pesticide is any substance that is intended to kill, repel or otherwise control a pest, including weeds, insects, rodents, bacteria and fungi. A pest can be defined as any organism that injures or competes with the growth and development of crops, trees, lawns and other plants. Plant injury is caused by such pests as insects, mites, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. When weeds compete with desirable plants for water, nutrients and sunlight, they are a pest. A pest also sometimes damages property or threatens human health and comfort.

If a pesticide is used to control an insect, it is called an insecticideHerbicides are used to control weeds, rodenticides to control rodents such as rats and mice, and fungicides to control fungi that cause certain plant diseases.

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