Public Health Pesticide Program Brochure

Public Health Pests & Public Health Pesticides

Mosquitoes, ticks, bedbugs, and sand flies are all Public Health Pests (insects and other arthropods) that can make people sick. In many cases, the sickness is due to pathogenic microorganisms that are transmitted (vectored) by the pests; examples include malaria, Lyme disease, West Nile fever, and dengue fever. In other cases, public health pests cause disease through allergic reactions or secondary infections after scratching breaks the skin. In all cases, the nuisance of a bite from a mosquito, bedbug, or other public health pest can affect the quality of life, even if pathogens are not transmitted.

Public health pesticides or PHP's are some of the primary tools used to control public health pests, together with screens and other exclusion devices, habitat management practices to reduce their abundance, and bio-control through support for predators or parasites of the pest species. Public health pesticides include all chemicals, both natural and synthetic, that help control public health pests. There are many types of PHP's, including toxicants which directly kill pest organisms, repellents which reduce contact between people and pests, insect growth regulators which inhibit the development of pests, attractants which entice pests into traps, and other “semiochemicals” which influence pest behavior.

Images provided by the Armed Forces Pest Management Board