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Pest Control Terminology - Abbreviations and Definitions

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

- A -

Abrasive -- Something that grinds down or wears away an object.

Absorption -- The process by which a chemical moves into plants & animals.

Acaricide -- A substance that is toxic to mites and ticks. A miticide is an acaricide.

Acre -- 43,560 square feet.

Attractant -- A substance that attracts a specific species of animal to it. When manufactured to attract pests to traps or poisoned baits, attractants are considered to be pesticides.

Activator -- An additive, usually for pesticides, used to increase its efficiency.

Active Ingredient -- The active or useful portion of a product which, by itself, can cause the desired effect.

Acute Toxicity -- The capacity of a pesticide to cause injury within 24 hours following exposure. LD50 and LC50 are common indicators of the degree of acute toxicity.

Adjuvant -- An agent added to a product to improve its activity.

Adsorption -- The process by which materials are held on the surface.

Adulticide -- Something toxic to the adult stage of an organism.

Aerosol -- Very fine liquid droplets or dust particles often emitted from a pressurized can or aerosol generating device.

Algae -- Simple plants that contain chlorophyll and are photosynthetic.

Algicide -- A substance that is toxic to algae.

Agitate -- To mix

Anticoagulant -- A chemical which stops the clotting process in blood.

Anti-siphoning Device -- A device attached to the filling hose that prevents backflow or backsiphoning from a spray tank into a water source.

Antidoe -- A treatment used to counteract the effects of poisoning in the body.

APHIS -- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Arachnid -- A wingless arthropod with two body regions and four pairs of jointed legs. Spiders, ticks, and mites are in the class Arachnida.

Arthropod -- An invertebrate animal characterized by a jointed body and limbs and usually a hard body covering that is molted at intervals. For example, insects, mites, and crayfish are in the phylum Arthropoda.

Atomize -- To break up a liquid into very small, fine droplets so that it is easily spread and settles slowly.

Attractant -- A substance that attracts a specific species of animal to it. When manufactured to attract pests to traps or poisoned baits, attractants are considered to be pesticides.

Avicide -- Something toxic to birds.

- B -

Bacteria -- Microscopic organisms, some of which are capable of producing diseases in plants and animals.

Bactericide -- A substance that is toxic to bacteria.

Bait -- Something attractive to a target organism which normally contains a toxicant of some kind.

Bait Shyness -- The tendency of organisms to avoid bait.

Band Application -- Application of a pesticide in a strip alongside or around a structure, a portion of a structure or any object.

Barrier Application -- See band application.

Beneficial Insect -- An insect that is useful or helpful to humans. Usually insect parasites, predators, pollinators, etc.

Biological Control -- The control of certain organisms by the use of their natural enemies, such as predators, parasites or disease.

Biomagnification -- The process where one organism accumulates chemical residues in higher concentrations from organisms they consume.

Botanical Pesticide -- A pesticide produced from chemicals found in plants. Examples are nicotine, pyrethrins, and strychnine.

Brand Name -- The name, or designation of a specific pesticide product or device made by a manufacturer or formulator. A marketing name.

Broad Spectrum -- Works over a very wide range or against a large number of organisms.

- C -

Calibrate -- To measure or figure the volume of a product dispensed by a machine or instrument.

Carbamates -- A class of insecticides with similar chemical structure. Baygon, Sevin, Ficam all are carbamates.

Carcinogenic -- The cancer producing property of a substance or agent.

Carrier -- An inert liquid, solid, or gas added to an active ingredient to make a pesticide dispnse effectively. A carrier is also the material, usually water or oil, used to dilute the formulated product for application.

Certified Applicators -- Individuals who are certified to use or supervise the use of any restricted use pesticide covered by their certification.

Chemical Name -- The scientific name of the active ingredient(s) found in the formulated product. This complex name is derived from the chemical structure of the active ingredient.

Chemical Control -- Pesticide application to kill pests. Chemosterilant -- A chemical compound capable of preventing animal reproduction.

ChemTREC -- The Chemical Transportation Emergency Center has a toll-free number that provides 24-hour information for chemical emergencies such as a spill, leak, fire, or accident.               1-800-424-9300       .

Centigrade -- A measure of temperature.

Chlorinated -- A group of insecticides which contains carbon, hydrocarbons, hydrogen and chlorine. Chlordane, Aldrin, Heptachlor and Lindane are all examples of Chlorinated Hydrocarbons.

Cholinesterase -- A body enzyme needed for the proper operation of the nervous system.

Cholinesterase Inhibitor -- A chemical which inhibits the action of the enzyme cholinesterase.

Chronic Effects -- A long, slow, continuous effect.

Combustible -- Can catch fire and burn.

Compatible -- When two different products can be mixed without affecting the properties of either one.

Concentration -- The amount of a product in a certain volume or weight.

Crack & Crevice Treatment -- Application of small quantities of pesticides into cracks and crevices with no residual on outside surfaces.

Crop -- Any plan which is growing where it is wanted.

- D -

Deactivation -- The process by which the toxic action of a pesticide is reduced or eliminated by impurities in the spray tank by water being used for mixing, or by biotic or abiotic factors in the environment.

Decontaminate -- To remove or neutralize a product so it or the environment it is in are safe.

Dermal -- Pertaining to the skin. One of the major ways pesticides can enter the body to possibly cause poisoning.

Desiccant -- A pesticide that destroys target pests by causing them to lose body moisture.

Dosage -- The measured quantity of a product used at one time.

DOT -- Department Of Transportation

Dry Flowable -- A dry, granular pesticide formulation intended to be mixed with water for application. When combined with water, a dry flowable will be similar to a wettable powder. Dry flowable formulations are measure by volume rather than weight.

Dust -- Finely ground pesticide particles, sometimes combined with inert materials. Dusts are applied without mixing with water or other liquid.

- E -

Economically Important Pest -- An insect or plant whose presence can damage crops or property in a measurable value.

Edible -- A food; safe to eat.

Efficacy -- The effectiveness of a product; its inherent ability to do what it says it will do.

Emulsifier -- An adjuvant added to a pesticide formulation to permit petroleum-based pesticides to mix with water.

Encapsulation -- A process by which tiny liquid droplets or dry particles are contained in polymer plastic capsules to slow their release into the environment and prolong their effectiveness. Sometimes encapsulation lowers hazards to people mixing or applying pesticides.

EPA -- Environmental Protection Agency

Eradication -- The pest management technique that uses physical or chemical barriers to prevent certain pests from getting into a defined area.

Exposure -- The contact of an organism with some product or device.

- F -

FDA -- Food and Drug Administration

FIFRA -- Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act

Flowable -- A pesticide formulation of finely ground particles of insoluble active ingredient suspended in a petroleum-based liquid combined with emulsifiers; flowables are mixed with water for final application.

Fog -- A spray of very small pesticide-laden droplets that remain suspended in the air.

Fogging -- The application of a pesticide in the form of a mist with particles in the 1-50 micro size.

Formulation -- The "form" a product is in in, i.e., dust granules

Fumigant -- According to AAPCO - "A substance or mixture of substances which produce a gas vapor, fume or smoke intended to destroy insects, rodents, or bacteria."

Fungicide -- A pesticide used for control of fungi.

- G -

General-Use Pesticide -- Pesticides that have been designated for use by the general public as well as by licensed or certified applicators. General-use pesticides usually have minimal hazards.

gpm -- Gallons per minutes

Gram -- A measure of weight in the metric system.

Granules -- A small sand like particle which carries/containers a chemical.

- H -

Hazard -- The probability that an accident or injury will occur when a product is used.

Herbicide -- A pesticide used for the control of weeds

Hormone -- A chemical produced in the cells of a plant or animal that produces changes in cells in another part of the organism's structure.

- I -

IGR -- Insect Growth Regulator

ILT -- Insect Lighting Trap

Incompatibility -- A condition in which two or more pesticides are unable to mix properly or one of the materials chemical alters the other to reduce its effectiveness or produce undesirable effects on the target.

Inert Ingredients -- Materials in the pesticide formulation that are not the active ingredient. some inert ingredients may be toxic or hazardous to people.

Infestation -- A troublesome invasion of pests within an area such as a building, greenhouse, agricultural crop or landscaped location.

Inhalation -- The method of entry of pesticides through the nose or mouth into the lungs.

Inhibit -- To prevent something from happening, such as a biochemical reaction within the tissues of a plan or animal.

Inorganic -- Compounds which lack carbon.

Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) -- A type of pesticide used for control of certain insects. Insect growth regulators disrupt the normal process of development from immature to mature life stages.

Insecticide -- A pesticide used for the control insects. Some insecticides are also labeled for control of ticks, mites, spiders and other arthropods.

Invertebrate -- Any animal having an external skeleton or shell, such as insects, spiders, mites, worms, nematodes, snails and slugs.

Ion -- An atom or molecule that carries a positive or negative electrical charge due to losing or gaining electrons through a chemical reaction.

IPM -- Integrated Pest Management

- J -

Juvenile -- Hormone A chemical which regulates the development of insects.

- K -

kg -- Abbreviation for kilogram, a measure of weight in the metric system.

Knapsack Sprayer -- A small portable sprayer carried on the back of the person making the pesticide application. Some knapsack sprayers are hand-operated and others are powered by small gasoline engines.

- L -

Label -- Written or printed material which pertains to the composition of uses of, precautions of, and limits of any chemical. It is the definitive guide for pesticide use and its compliance is mandated by law.

Larva -- The immature form of insects that undergo metamorphosis (plural:larvae).

LC50 -- The lethal concentration of a pesticide in the air or in a body of water that will kill half of a test animal population. LC50 values are given in micrograms per milliliter of air or water (ug/ml).

LD50 -- The lethal dose of a pesticide that will kill half of a test animal population. LD50 values are given in milligrams per kilogram of test animal body weight (mg/kg).

Leaching -- The process by which some pesticides move down through the soil, usually by being dissolved in water, with the possibility of reaching groundwater.

Lethal -- Capable of causing death.

Liter -- A measure of volume (usually liquid) in the metric system; a little more than a quart.

- M -

Mesh -- The term used to describe the number of wires per inch in a screen, such as one used to filter foreign particles out of spray solutions to keep nozzles from becoming clogged. Mesh is also the term used to describe the size of pesticide granules, pellets and dusts.

mg -- Milligram; a measure of weight in the metric system

Microencapsulated -- A pesticide formulation in which particles of the active ingredient are encased in plastic capsules; pesticide is released after application when the capsules break down.

Micron -- A very small unit of measure: 1/1,000,000th of a meter

Miscible -- Able to be mixed

Mode of Action -- The way a pesticide reacts with a pest organism to destroy it.

Mortality -- Proportion of deaths to the population of a region.

MSDS -- Material safety data sheet. An information sheet provided by a pesticide manufacturer describing chemical qualities, hazards, safety precautions, and emergency procedures to be followed in case of a spill, fire, or other emergency.

- N -

NIOSH -- National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. The federal agency that tests and certifies respirator equipment for pesticide application.

Nematicide -- A pesticide used to control nematodes.

Nonionic -- Pertaining to an adjuvant that dissolves in the spray solution to produce no positive or negative ions.

Nonorganic -- Pesticides that do not contain organic molecules.

Nonpersistent -- Does not last long. Has become a very important term in reference to pesticides

Nonselective -- A pesticide that has an action against many species of pests rather than just a few.

Nontarget -- Animals or plants within a pesticide treated area that are not intended to be controlled by the pesticide application.

Noxious -- Something that is harmful to living organisms, such as noxious weeds.

- O -

Oral -- Through the mouth - this is one of the routes of entry of pesticides into the body.

Oral Toxicity -- The poisonous affects of a product when ingested (swallowed).

Organic Compounds -- Chemical compounds which contain carbon.

Organochlorine -- A class of pesticides, commonly used as insecticides, that contain a chlorine atom incorporated into an organic molecule. Organochlorines are often highly persistent. Many Organochlorine compounds are no longer used as pesticides.

Organophosphate -- A commonly used class of pesticides; organophosphates are organic molecules containing phosphorus. Some organophosphates are highly toxic to people. Most break down in the environment very rapidly.

Ornamentals -- Usually refers to desirable plants.

- P -

Parasite -- A plant or animal that derives all its nutrients from another organism. Parasites often attach themselves to their host or invade the host's tissues. Parasitism may result in injury or death of the host.

Pathogen -- A microorganism that causes a disease.

PCO -- Pest Control Operator

Pellet -- A pesticide formulation consisting of the dry active ingredient and inert materials pressed into uniform sized granules.

Perennial -- A plant that lives longer than two years - some may live indefinitely. Some perennial plants lose their leaves and become dormant during winter; others may die back and resprout from underground root structures each year. The evergreens are perennial plants that do not die back or become dormant.

Pesticide -- Any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any insects, rodents, nematodes, fungi, weeds, or any other forms of life declared to be pests; and any other substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant or desiccant.

Pesticide formulation -- The pesticide as it comes from its original container, consisting of the active ingredient blended with inert materials.

Pesticide Resistance -- Genetic qualities of a pest population that enable individuals to resist the effects of certain types of pesticides that are toxic to other members of that species.

pH -- A measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution - as the number of hydrogen ions increase, the solution becomes more acidic.

Pheromone -- A chemical produced by an animal to attract other animals of the same species.

Phytotoxic -- Injurious (toxic) to plants.

Plant Growth Regulator -- A pesticide used to regulate or alter the normal growth of plants or development of plan parts.

Postmergence -- An herbicide applied after emergence of a specified weed or crop.

Powder -- A finely ground dust containing active ingredient and inert materials. This powder is mixed with water before application as a liquid spray.

ppb -- Parts per billion.

PPQ -- Plant Protection and Quarantine.

ppm -- Parts per million.

Preemergent -- The action of an herbicide that controls specified weeds as they sprout from seeds before they push through the soil surface.

psi -- Pounds per square inch.

Pupa -- In insects having complete metamorphosis, the resting life stage between larval and adult forms.

Pyrethroid -- A synthetic pesticide that mimics pyrethrin, a botanical pesticide derived from certain species of chrysanthemum flowers.

- Q -

- R -

Rate -- The quantity or volume of liquid spray, dust or granules that is applied to an area over a specified period of time.

Repellent -- A pesticide used to keep target pests away from a treated area by saturating the area with an odor that is disagreeable to the pest.

Residue -- Traces of pesticide that remain on treated surfaces after a period of time.

Resistance -- The physical or chemical ability of certain organisms to neutralize the effects of certain compounds.

Restricted Use -- Any compound for which a special license or permit is required before it can be purchased or used.

Rodenticide -- A pesticide used for control of rats, mice, gophers, squirrels and other rodents.

- S -

Selective Pesticide -- A pesticide that has a mode of action against only a single or small number of pest species.

Service Container -- Any container designed to hold concentrate or diluted pesticide mixtures, including the sprayer tank, but not the original pesticide container.


Signal Word -- The word "Danger", "Warning", or "Caution" that appears on a pesticide label that signifies how toxic the pesticide is and what toxicity category it belongs to.

Site -- The area which can be treated with certain chemicals.

Slurry -- A thick suspension usually made from a wettable powder and water.

Soluble -- A material that dissolves completely in a liquid.

Soluble Powder -- A pesticide formulation where the active ingredient and all inert ingredients completely dissolve in water to form a true solution.

Solution -- A liquid that contains dissolved substances, such as a soluble pesticide.

Solvent -- A liquid capable of dissolving certain chemicals.

Spot Treatment -- Directed at specified or limited area instead of a general overall application; spot not to exceed 2 sq. feet, but may be next to each other with space left between each spot.

Spreader -- An adjuvant that lowers the surface tension of treated surfaces to enable the pesticide to be absorbed.

Structural Pest -- Pest which will attack structures or buildings and destroy or damage them.

Surfactant -- A compound which reduces the surface tension of water for better spreading and sticking.

Susceptible -- Easily affected by. Synergism -- A reaction in which a chemical that has no pesticidal qualities can enhance the toxicity of a pesticide it is mixed with.

Systemic Pesticide -- A pesticide that is taken up into the tissues of the organism and transported to other locations where it will affect pests.

- T -

Tank Mix -- A mixture of pesticides or pesticides and fertilizers applied at the same time.

Threshold Limit Value (TLV) -- The airborne concentration of a pesticide in parts per million (ppm) that produces no adverse effects over a period of time.

Tolerance -- The ability to endure the effects of a pesticide or pest without exhibiting adverse effects.

Toxicity -- The potential a pesticide has for causing harm.

Tracking Powder -- A fine powder that is dusted over a surface to detect or control certain pests such as cockroaches or rodents. For control, the inert powder is combined with a pesticide; the animal ingests this powder and becomes poisoned when it cleans itself.

- U -

Ultra-Low Volume (ULV) -- A pesticide application technique in which very small amounts of liquid spray are applied over a unit of area; usually 1/2 gallon or less of spray per acre in row crops to about 5 gallons of spray per acre in orchards and vineyards.

USDA -- United States Department of Agriculture

- V -

Vapor -- A gas, mist or fog.

Vector -- An organism such as an insect that can transmit a pathogen to plants or animals.

Vertebrate -- The group of animals that haven an internal skeleton and segment spine, such as fish, birds, reptiles and mammals.

Volatile -- Able to pass from liquid into a gaseous stage readily at low temperature.

- W -

Warning -- The signal word used on labels of pesticides in toxicity Category II, having an oral LD50 between 50 and 500 and a dermal LD50 between 200 and 2000.

WDI -- Wood Destroying Insect

WDO -- Wood Destroying Organism

Weed -- Any undesirable plant; a plant out of place.

Wettable Powder -- A solid (powder) which is not soluble in water but when added to water will form a suspension.

Wetting Agent -- A product which will reduce the surface tension of a liquid, helping it stick to a given surface.

- X -

- Y -

- Z -

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