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How do I find out how to control a pest problem?

I have a pest problem that I want to control with pesticides. How do I find out what to use on the pest?

First, consider if pesticide use is really necessary and proper. In many cases, pesticides are a pest management method of last resort. Often they are a waste of money and time and can be a poor choice for home pest control.

If you see a problem, the first step is to find out what is causing it. If the problem is actually caused by a pest, identify this pest. Next, consider: Is the pest problem serious? Is the problem worth the time, cost, and trouble? (For example, it might be simpler to replace an infested house plant than to treat it!) Another consideration is: should you act now, or watch and wait? For example, will a pesticide be effective at this stage of the pest’s life cycle? If you need to act, ask yourself if using a pesticide the best way to control this pest. If so, do you have the right pesticide for the job, and the equipment and skill to handle and apply it correcctly?

To properly control a pest, you must first properly identify it. It is only after you properly identify the pest problem that you should then attempt to control it.

For help in pest identification, pest and pesticide management and decision-making, contact you local Extension agent. A list of local Extension offices for Virginia is available at

Also, on the Extension web site you will find information on a variety of topics, including pest control.

Specifically, the Pest Management Guide series is helpful in providing VA-based recommendations. Sections may be obtained from your local Extension office or from the VCE website. The url for the PMGs is:

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EPA Agency-wide Frequently Asked Questions database.  You can browse through the database, search, or submit a question. Here are a few FAQ links:

Fertilizer Certification

Online Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training


Virginia Cooperative Extension offers a free online training and testing program (Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training, FACT)

Upon successful completion of this online training program, users meet the requirements of becoming a Virginia Certified Fertilizer Applicator as administered through the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). The link to the FACT website is and complete instructions on how to access the system, enroll in the training, complete the training and testing, and contact information for any questions are provided.

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