Ditch unwanted pesticides the safe way – Daily Press – Daily Press

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In 2005, Ken and I purchased property with a 30-year-old garage on it. Cleaning out that garage, we found bottles of chemicals, including an old brown-glass jug of Chlordane, a chemical I know well from the 1970s.
Back then, some local engineers ordered it in 50-gallon drums and shared it to combat potential termite damage to their homes. My father got some and used it for decades.
Chlordane was banned for home, garden and agricultural uses in 1983, and was allowed for restricted underground termite control for an additional five years until suspended in 1989, according to Jeffrey Rogers, an environmental program planner with the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.
Instead of dumping that Chlordane and other chemical containers in our dumpster, we took them for proper disposal to a chemical collection in York County.
You can do the same with any unwanted pesticide – the generic term for insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides — during a pesticide disposal program 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29, at the York County Operations Center, 100 County Drive, off Goodwin Neck Road/Route 17. It’s sponsored by the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.
An additional collection will be held Sept. 12 at the New Kent Refuge Center, 6301 Olivet Church Road in Providence Forge. Participants are limited to farmers, pesticide dealers, pest control firms, certified applicators, homeowners and golf course operators.
Since its inception in 1990, Virginia’s Pesticide Disposal Program has collected and destroyed more than 1.2 million pounds of outdated and unwanted pesticides, according to a news release.
Participants should complete a pesticide registration form ahead of time and return the completed form to VDACS, P.O. Box 1163, Richmond Va. 23218 before the collection event. The form is available at: http://vdacs.virginia.gov/pesticides/disposal.shtml or by contacting the Pesticide Disposal Program at 804-786-3798.
If you have questions about the disposal program, contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension agent – Dan Nortman at 890-4940 in York County. A list of additional extension offices is available at ext.vt.edu/offices. You can also contact Jeffrey Rogers at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: jeffrey.rogers@vdacs.virginia.gov, 804-371-6561, or Jeffrey Rogers, VDACS’ Office of Pesticide Services, P.O. Box 1163, Richmond, Va. 23218.
“We require registration so our disposal company knows what kind of products to expect,” said Elaine Lidholm, director of communications for the state’s pesticide services office.
“It is rare these days,” Lidholm said, “but if it should happen that someone has very old, banned pesticides, or a shed full of products where the labels may be missing or bags may have burst, the disposal company may decide to go to that place because it would be dangerous for people to try and load it and transport it themselves.”
“When we first started this program in 1990, we went to farms, orchards and pesticide firms to pick up and pack materials because there were a lot of things sitting around such as DDT,” she said. “We didn’t want people moving those products themselves. Now that we’ve been through the state several times, we hardly ever see those old products anymore and most products are packaged in a way to be safe to transport.”
Pesticides 101
Pesticides, which kill good bugs as well as bad bugs, are increasingly taking a toll on our environmental health, including bee populations, according to experts.
Virginia, as well as much of the rest of the United States, is experiencing dramatic losses in honey bees, according to Rogers. Over last winter (between October 2013 and April 2014), 32.8 percent of managed honey bee colonies in Virginia died.
This is higher than the national loss rate of 23.2 percent during the same period, but lower than Virginia’s previous winter loss of 44.6 percent over the winter of 2012-2013, states the 8th annual national survey of honey bee colony losses conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership.
“Scientists believe that those losses are likely caused by a combination of multiple stressors, including poor bee nutrition, loss of forage lands, parasites, pathogens and exposure to pesticides,” says Rogers.
If you feel compelled to use a pesticide, follow the instructions for use, cautions Rogers. The pesticide label is the law, he stresses. Failure to follow the directions could constitute violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, which is the federal pesticide law, as well as the Virginia Pesticide Control Act. Both the federal and Virginia pesticide laws provide for civil or criminal penalties for violations.
What are the risks of not reading and following the label? Using the wrong formula can cause personal injury or environmental contamination, but also possibly result in restrictions on the use of a chemical, cautions Rogers.
For example, he said, in 2013, an estimated 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Wilsonville, Ore., after a commercial pesticide applicator treated blooming linden trees with an insecticide in an effort to control aphids. That incident prompted Oregon officials to prohibit the use of certain insecticides.
Two more recent incidents of large bee deaths also in Oregon prompted officials in that state to prohibit the application of certain products to linden, basswood and other trees of Tilia species, he added.
“By using pesticides according to the label, pest control professionals and homeowners can reduce the potential for a similar incident occurring in Virginia,” he says.
Pesticide alternatives
In the home and yard, pests can include anything and everything from aphids and squash bugs to flies and mosquitoes – spiders and stink bugs, too. Before you grab a container of powerful pesticide, consider alternative ways of dealing with them.
Horticultural oils work well on soft-bodied pests, and do not pose problems to bees unless they are sprayed directly on them, according to local beekeepers. Weeds can easily be hand pulled in the yard and garden, or vinegar- and salt-mixed-with water sprays used on them.
Indoors, bothersome stink bugs and beneficial ladybugs can be vacuumed up and deposited outdoors.
In King and Queen County, Karen Hinson Mumaw uses a diluted spray mixture of Dawn dish liquid on squash.
“This is the first year my harvest wasn’t ruined by squash beetles,” she writes through my Facebook page.
“It must be used as a preventative, though. Once you see the little buggers, it’s usually too late. You must keep up with it – spray about once a week as soon as the plants get large leaves.”
In York County, the mosquito control division promotes mosquito-repellent gardening, targeting small areas, such as patios.
“We’re encouraging people to add plants – lavender, basil, bee balm — that have been shown to repel mosquitoes,” says Leah Aguilar, operations superintendent. A full list with descriptions and tips is found at http://www.yorkcounty.gov/mosquitocontrol.
“This winter, we are going to try to make some sample mosquito repellents from these plants so that we can teach the citizens how to do this if they want.”
“Additionally, we are studying Native American ethno botany to see how plants were used historically and how we may be able to incorporate that into our efforts today.”
Contact Kathy at kvanmullekom@aol.com.
Helpful websites
*Learn to identify and deal with garden insects/pests through Virginia Cooperative Extension at http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/category/garden-insects-pests.html.
*To check the registration status of a specific product, visit http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pesticides/kelly.shtml. If the pesticide is not currently registered, you should dispose of it, according to pesticide experts.
*Learn about pesticide safety, as well as IPM, or Integrated Pest Management, through Virginia Pesticide Safety at http://www.vapesticidesafety.com.
Integrated Pest Management tips
IPM is a holistic approach to pest management, with chemical controls being one of the many tools available, said York County extension agent Dan Nortman.
“With an IPM approach, you monitor your yard for pests, ID them, and make sure that they are truly a pest of concern,” he says. “If they are a pest of concern, then you should find alternative controls, using pesticides as a last resort.”
Controls and tips for pesticides, he says, include:
*More is not always better. When using concentrates, do not add more to the dilution to ”get a better kill.” There’s a reason for the recommended rates, and disobeying them is not only a violation of federal law, but can have unintended consequences for you, your family, plants in your yard and the environment.
*Follow label directions for timing. Some pest biology is very complex, and when and where to spray is very important. The label often gives timing for some pests, but if you have additional questions, call your local extension office.
*Make sure you ID your pests.
*Practice good sanitation. Pick bad bugs off plants when you see them, use proper pruning techniques, clean up diseased leaves, and control weeds before they go to seed
*For insect pests in particular, look for bio control. Many pests are controlled by naturally occurring predators, so look for good guys before you spray.
*Pay attention to the active ingredients in the pesticides you use. Many products from different companies have the same of similar active ingredients. If a pesticide doesn’t work for you, instead of buying another product, look for another active ingredient.
*When you buy pesticides, buy only what you need. It’s easier to go to the store and get more than it is to properly store or dispose of old pesticides.
*Diversity is key. Having different plants makes the impact less if one plant species is killed by insect or disease. An example would be when building a screen. Relying on one plant for a screen between yards sets yourself up for disappointment when that plant fails and you lose your entire screen in a few seasons. Plant diversity also brings in good insects, and reduces the ability of certain pests to build up over time.
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Kathy Hogan Van Mullekom@Facebook
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