The Bugwood Network

Forest Pest Control

Douce, G.K., Moorhead, D.J., and Bargeron, C.T., Forest Pest Control, The University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Special Bulletin 16, Revised January 2002.

Other Considerations

The forest manager must be acutely aware of all of the environmental and personal safety concerns associated with using pesticides. Federal and state efforts to protect individuals, wildlife and the environment from harm and contamination are becoming important issues to determine which pesticides will be registered and for what use.

The forest manager must be aware of both current and developing limits and restrictions dealing with pesticide use, and must use and enforce all safety precautions and environmental safeguards. Pesticides that are incorrectly released into the environment (whether during application, mixing, loading, equipment cleaning, storage, transportation or disposal of pesticides) pose a threat to individuals, wildlife, endangered species and both surface and groundwater. Forestry pesticides are often applied to large areas which frequently consist of diverse habitats encompassing streams, rivers, estuaries, swamps or open water. These diverse habitats may be home to humans; domesticated animals; and terrestrial, aquatic and/or marine organisms. Consequently, special limits and restrictions often apply to pesticide use in forests. Always read and follow label directions.

Report fish or wildlife kills in pesticide-treated or adjacent areas to the appropriate Natural Resource agency. It may want to investigate the reason for such a kill to help prevent future occurrences. Many conditions other than pesticides can kill fish or wildlife.

Beneficial Forest Insects

There are many species of beneficial forest insects. Some of these insects feed on forest debris and aid in its deterioration; others feed on organic matter in the duff and soil and contribute to improvements in soil fertility. Many others are parasites or predators of destructive insect species. Many insects are important food sources for birds and other small animals. Bees and certain other insects are important pollinators of many commercial crops as well as forest plants and trees.

Forest managers and pesticide applicators must be aware of these and other wildlife members of the forest environment. Pesticide labeling gives useful information about toxicity to non-target life forms. Learn as much as possible about the health and environmental hazards of the pesticides that may be used. Select the pesticide and application method that will have the least adverse impact and still get the job done.

Prescribed Burning

This is often employed to help control undesirable forest species. It also can help reduce brown spot needle blight on longleaf pine seedlings and annosum root disease as well as other undesirable forest conditions. Prescribed burning is often an important part of most chemical site preparation treatments. Not only does it add to the herbicide kill, it helps clear the site to facilitate reforestation work. When properly timed and executed, prescribed fire has little adverse effect on the environment. However, prescribed burning and other non-chemical pest control measures can present risks and have undesirable effects. Prepare a written, prescribed burning plan before each burn to identify measurable objectives for burning and specific conditions under which the burn will be conducted. Be sure to make a smoke management screening evaluation and conduct a follow-up evaluation of the effectiveness of your prescribed burn. In most states, you must contact the local Forestry Commission/Department office for a burning permit before you start the burn.

Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act provides:

  • Legal protection for endangered and threatened species.
  • Requires all Federal Agencies (for example, EPA) to ensure their actions will not jeopardize the existence of any endangered species.

About 58 endangered species, or 17 percent of the total endangered species currently listed, occur in forest situations in the United States. Many of the pesticides presently labeled for use in forests are considered to have an adverse affect on one or more of these endangered species. These numbers doubtlessly will change over time, but they indicate there are many endangered species found in forest situations, and a number of pesticides will affect them. Since 1988, every affected pesticide has a warning on the label:

  • Label prohibits pesticide use in occupied habitat of endangered species
  • Ranges are identified to county level
  • They are to be used in identified counties permitted only if not within the range of endangered species

An information bulletin should be available in those counties of a state listed on the label. The Information Bulletin will have a county map giving the boundaries of those areas of the county where the use of the pesticide will have some restrictions, the endangered species affected, and a description of its habitat. Information bulletins should be available through local county Extension and state forestry offices. Each state will have an “enforcement plan” to implement the Endangered Species Act.

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The University of Georgia - Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Dept. of Entomology

Last updated December 2018

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