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Pest Management Terms 

Understanding the terms used in pest management are very important to a successful pest management program.



Pesticide that controls mites and ticks, not insects

Active ingredient

The chemicals in a product that are principally responsible for the effects


Any substance in a formulation which enhances the effectiveness of the product

Aphid mummy After an aphid has been parasitized by a tiny parasitic wasp, the aphid body will turn tan in color and become more round.  Inside the beneficial wasp will compete its life cycle before exiting out the back of the dead aphid (mummy).
Artificial diet Some biological control agents are reared on a man made food that makes the rearing process more economical and more consistent.
Bacillus thuringiensis A bacteria that has been isolated from the soil that is used as an insecticide.  The pests must ingest this bacterium in order for it to kill the insect. There are different varieties of Bt commercially available that target different insects
  •  aizawai - targets various caterpillars
  • israelensis targets fly species like fungus gnats
  • kurstaki - targets various caterpillars
  • tenebrionis targets beetle species like elm leaf beetle
  • san diego - targets beetle species like elm leaf beetle


A single-celled microscopic plant-like organism that does not produce chlorophyll. It can cause disease in plants or in insects.

Banker plant

Plants that are used to encourage beneficials to reproduce and stay in a given area.  These plants provide an alternate food source for the beneficials whether it be pollen or pest insects /mites. One of the more popularly used varieties of plants is the Black Pearl pepper, used as part of a thrips management program.  Barley is another example of plant being used but as part of an aphid management program.

Beneficial insects

Insects that feed or parasitize pest insects or mites.

Beneficial nematodes Microscopic non-segment worms that are used to target pest insects. They are commercially available and target a wide range of insect pests including fungus gnat, black vine weevils, cutworms and borers. 

Biological control

The use of living organisms, such as predators, parasitoids, and pathogens, to control pest insects, weeds, or diseases. Typically involves some human activity.


Biopesticides are certain types of pesticides derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals.

Breeder pile When piles of predatory mites, along with their carrier are piled on the soil surface.  This allows for the predatory mites to breed and slowly come out of the pile, creating a slow release system.
Cali mite Nickname for Amblyseius californicus, a commercially produced predatory mite that feeds on spider mites, eriophyid mites, and others.

Chemical control

Pest management practices which rely upon the application of synthetic or naturally-derived pesticides.


Loss of green color in foliage followed by yellowing of the tissue.

Classical biological control

The importation of foreign natural enemies to control previously introduced, or native, pests. This is usually a one time release and the enemies establish themselves.


A silken case formed by an insect larva for pupation

Cultural practices

Pest management practices that rely upon manipulation of the plants environment (e.g., cultivation of weeds harboring insect pests).


Any substance or mixture of substances used to accelerate the drying of tissue


A surface active substance which promotes the suspensions of one liquid in another.


Causing disease to an insect

Factitious host When you force a biological control agent to feed on an insect or mite that it would not feed on it in nature. This can allows for higher production levels.


A taxonomic subdivision of an order, containing a group of related genera. Family names end in -idae.

Fungus, Fungi

Any of numerous plants lacking chlorophyll, ranging in form from a single cell to a body of branched filaments.  Can cause plant diseases or be used to control insects


The sugary liquid discharge from certain insects such as aphids and scales. This provides a growing media for sooty mold.


The organism in or on which a parasitoid lives; a plant on which an insect feeds.

Host plant resistance

The qualities possessed by a plant that reduces the chance of damage to the plant by a pest or pests.

Hyper parasite A parasite that parasitizes parasites. This can be a problem sometimes with aphid parasites.


(Integrated pest management). An approach to the management of pests in which all available control options, including physical, chemical, and biological controls, are evaluated and integrated into a unified program.


(Insect Growth Regulator) A chemical that limits the development of an insect. There are 3 types of IGR : Chitin Synthesis Inhibitors, Juvenile Hormone Mimics, and Ecdysone antagonists/mimics.  These can prevent an insect from developing into the next life stage by interfering with chitin development or by interfering with its hormones. These products are often reduced risk and only work in the immature life stages.

Insectary A place where insects, mites or nematodes are commercially reared under laboratory conditions.

Insecticide resistance

Genetically inherited ability to not be killed by a pesticide.

Intraguild predation  When potential competitors, eat or kill each other.
Instar The different life stages between molts of a juvenile insect.
Laboratory reared Biocontrol agents that are reared in a facility, not collected from outdoors.
Mating disruption When synthesized sex pheromones are released to confuse and  interfere with the natural mating process.


Any of several minute invertebrates belonging to the phylum Arthropoda, class Arachnida.


Kill mites that feed on plants and animals.

Mode of action How a pesticides kills.


An elongated, cylindrical worm that can not be seen with the naked eye. Some species can parasites plants while other kill insects. 


A pesticide that typically kills everything, good and bad bugs.

Ovicides Kill eggs of insects and mites.


An insect that feeds in or on another living animal, consuming all or most of its tissues and eventually killing it.


A disease-causing organism.


A substance that is used to kill, debilitate, or repel a pest.

Pesticide residue After a pesticide has been applied to plant material, the active ingredient that remains on the leaf surface.  This can vary depending on product uses, type of production and irrigation. Growers using biological control agents are often concerned with this, so they know when the plants will once again be safe for beneficials.


A chemical that is released by insects to trigger a response from its own same species.  Today some of these pheromones have been synthetically synthesized and are used for trapping and monitoring insect populations. Western flower thrips, bagworms, and white pine weevil are just a few commercially available.

Physical Control

Control of pests by physical means such as heat, picking off, or barrier.


Damage done to leaf tissue by a wide range of compounds.  It can be caused by pesticides, fertilizer, salts, and other compounds.


An insect or mite that attacks and feeds on other insect or mites, normally killing several individuals during its life cycle.

REI Restricted Entry Intervals.  The given time after a pesticide has been applied before an employee can go back into the treated area. This information can be found on the label. If someone must go back in to the area before the time has elapsed, protective equipment must be worn.
Resistance management Used in reference to pesticide, growers must rotate their modes of action of pesticides to prevent the insects building up immunity to products.
Sachet  Small paper pouches that are placed or hung on plants containing breeding of predatory mite. This acts as a slow release system, releasing mites over several weeks.  The most commonly used species is Amblyseius cucumeris.


Surveying the number of organisms (pests or natural enemies) or damage by examining a defined portion of the crop.

Side effects, pesticides How a pesticide may impact biological control agents.  This information can be found on website such as and
Sticky Cards Pieces of plastic or heavy paper that are coated with adhesive to trap insects.  They are most often yellow but also come in blue.  They are used to monitor insect populations. Order here


A material which favors or improves the emulsifying, dispersing, spreading, wetting, or other surface modifying properties of liquids

Systemic pesticides Pesticides that move inside a plant after being absorbed though the leaf tissue. They move within the vascular tissues.
Translaminar pesticide Pesticides that can penetrate leaf surfaces and move throughout the leaf.  Avid is a classic example.
Trap crop A carefully selected plant species that is more attractive to the pest insects  than the cop being grown. These plants are then placed within the crop being grown and either treated with a pesticide, or bagged and removed.
Wild harvested Biocontrol agents collected from nature.  This can be a problem because of parasites carried by the beneficials, and native population decimation, but this is an inexpensive way to offer them for sale.  This is typically done with ladybird beetles in the US.


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