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How do I prepare for outdoor pesticide treatments?

What are the risks from outdoor pesticide treatments?

Residents or pest control companies may apply pesticides along the outside of a home, in lawns, or in trees on their property. When pesticides are used outside, there can be risks to people and animals nearby. The risk depends on both product toxicity and exposure to people, animals or the environment. Each pesticide has a unique potential for risk.

For information about community-wide applications, visit our page here.

Things to consider if a neighbor is treating their property:

Pesticides are used in very specific locations. A product applied near the foundation of a neighbor's home may have little risk of moving to other places. Fences, hedges, and other natural barriers help to block airborne drift from pesticides. Weather precautions on the label minimize the chances that the product may move to other areas. High heat, wind, or rain may delay the treatment.

How long should pets or people be out of the area?

Some companies may provide notification about how long to stay out of the area. They may post a sign with information about how long to stay away. You may consider contacting your State Pesticide Regulatory Agency for more information about regulations in your area.

Pesticide product labels may also have requirements for re-entry. If not, you may consider waiting until the area has dried before returning. Should a granular or dust product be used, waiting until the product has settled may also help to minimize exposure. If the product needs to be dissolved, consider waiting until the granules are no longer visible and the space has dried.

Consider keeping pets indoors when possible to limit their access to treatments. If you have to take pets out while the product is drying, you might try to take them to an area that was not treated, or take them for a walk.

What about my garden?

Should you have a garden or sensitive plants, you might consider moving or covering plants near the treatment. Keep in mind that not all pesticides can be absorbed or taken up by garden plants. Even if a product is used nearby, it does not mean that it will get into the plant.

If you are unable to remove the plants before the application, you have several options. You might leave a buffer of untreated property around the garden. Or, you might cover the garden with a tarp, cardboard, or other barrier. If hiring a professional, talk with them about your concerns before the application.

What about wildlife?

If you have control over timing of the application, consider when wildlife will be active. For bees, avoid applications on blooming flowers and times of day when pollinators are active. Spraying in the evening may spare pollinators and allow for sprays to dry overnight. If you use a granule that birds may think is seed, sweep off driveways or exposed soil so it's harder for them to see it.

Will the product they use get into my home?

Although unlikely, if you are concerned about a pesticide getting into your home from a nearby treatment, consider closing your windows and doors before the application. Once the product has dried, it will be much less likely to get into your home.

If your air conditioner unit is near the application, you may consider turning off the unit to prevent it from being moved into the building.

Will the product move if it rains?

If there is a major risk that a product may be washed away by rain, the product label may have restrictions about its use when rain is expected. Once pesticides have dried, they may bind to soil or surfaces that limit the movement of the product from the target site. The potential to move with rain is different between pesticides, depending on their solubility. The slope of your property may also affect movement.

Last updated May 26, 2020

If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at npic@ace.orst.edu.

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Natural and Biological Pesticides



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