Originally published in Seasonal Guide, April 12, 2012
Is it really a pest?
Many area schools have gardens, greenhouses or growing projects. Here, children at the Adams School work in a garden in 2010.
A pest is any living thing—a plant, an animal, or a microorganism—that has a negative effect on humans. It can be an unwanted plant (weed), fungi, nematode, microbe (such as bacteria or virus), insect, spider, mite, bird, fish, rodent, or even a deer. Labeling an organism a pest is a very subjective concept that varies with each individual’s point of view.
In general, pests are unwanted or undesirable because they:
• reduce the availability, quality, or value of human resources such as food, feed, water, or space;
• injure humans, animals, crops, structures, and possessions;
• spread or cause disease; or
• interfere with human activities by causing annoyance, discomfort, or inconvenience.
Many organisms may become pests, certain organisms are often pests, but none are inherently pests.
Before you swat, stomp, or spray, know your enemy. Know your friends, too. Over 97 percent of insects in and around the home are beneficial or innocent bystanders. Even critters we often think of as pests can play an important role in the ecosystem, such as food for fish and birds (mosquitoes and blackflies), eating garden pests (wasps), pollinating fruit trees (bees) and more. Birds, mammals, plants and microorganisms may also be beneficial organisms that can be impacted by pesticide applications.
—Compiled from the Maine Department of Agriculture Web Site