The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
A GLOSSARY OF PEST CONTROL TERMINOLOGY --------
L. S. Osborne and A. R. Chase '
IFAS University of Florida
Agricultural Research Center Apopka '-:-
ARC-A Research Report RH-82-4
Many times during a conversation concerning pesticide use, communication
breaks down due to improper understanding and use of basic pest control
terminology. The best and most common example of this problem is the use of the
word pesticide. Pesticide is often used to mean insecticide only, excluding
all other pesticide types (fungicide, herbicide, etc.). The misunderstanding
is based on the meaning of pest. Pests include organisms such as insects,
mites, nematodes, bacteria, fungi, viruses, weeds, or other organisms causing
losses in a crop. Therefore, a pesticide is a chemical which controls any or all
of these organisms.
The purpose of the following glossary is to provide a useful reference for
growers who must interpret pesticide labels and communicate with experts regard-
ing pest control methods.
1. Acaricide A pesticide used to control mites and ticks. Same as miticide.
2. Active ingredient The substance in a pesticide which kills or controls a
pest. (Note: This is the actual poison in a product.)
3. Actual dosage The amount of active ingredient which is applied to an
4. Acute toxicity How poisonous a single dose (or exposure) of a pesticide is
when absorbed through the skin dermall), breathed into the lungs (inhalation)
or taken by mouth (oral).
5. Acute poisoning Poisoning which occurs after a single exposure to a
6. Additive See adjuvant.
7. Adherence When a substance sticks to a surface.
8. Adjuvant Any substance added to a pesticide formulation to make the active
ingredient work better (adhesive, emulsifier, penetrant, spreader, wetting
9. Aerosol A suspension of fine solids or liquids in air or gas.
10. Antagonism The decrease in effectiveness which is a result of two or more
chemicals being exposed to each other or mixed together.
11. Antibiotic A substance which is used to control microorganisms.
12. Antidote A treatment given to counteract the effects of pesticide poison-
ing. (Note: If poisoning occurs, get medical help immediately!)
13. Antitranspirant A chemical which reduces water loss (prevents drying
14. Atomize To reduce a liquid or solid to find droplets or particles.
15. Atropine sulfate or atropine An antidote used by doctors to treat
poisoning by organic phosphate and carbamate pesticides.
16. Bacteria One-celled microorganisms (germs) which cannot be seen with
the naked eye, certain ones can cause plant diseases.
17. Bactericide A pesticide used to control bacteria.
18. Beneficial Useful or helpful to people (as in "a beneficial insect").
Example: An insect which feeds on plant-damaging insects.
19. Biological control Control of pests by using predators, parasites,
and disease-producing organisms instead of using chemical pesticides.
20. Brand name (Trade name) The manufacturer's name for the product.
21. Broadcast application A uniform application over an entire area.
22. Broad spectrum pesticide A pesticide that controls or is toxic to a
wide range of pests. Same as Non-selective.
23. Calibrate To adjust equipment to apply the desired amount of pesticide
to a specific area in a given length of time.
24. Carbamate A synthetic organic pesticide which contains carbon, hydrogen,
nitrogen, and sulfur, belongs to a group of chemicals which are salts or
esters of carbonic acid. Carbamates may be acaricides, fungicides,
herbicides, insecticides, or nematicides.
25. Carcinogen A substance or agent capable of producing cancer.
26. Carrier An additive which makes the active ingredient easier to apply.
27. Cartridge The part of the respirator which absorbs fumes and vapors from
the air before the applicator breathes them in.
28. "Caution" A signal word used on pesticide labels that lets the user know
the pesticide is slightly toxic (Toxicity Categories III and IV) as
defined by FIFRA (Amended).
29. Chemical name The scientific name telling the contents or formula of the
active ingredients of the pesticides.
30. Chemical control Control method based on use of chemicals to reduce or
eliminate a pest population.
31. Chemotherapy The treatment of a diseased plant with chemicals to destroy
or inactivate a pathogen without seriously affecting the plant.
32. Chlorosis The yellowing of a plant's normally green tissue.
33. Cholinesterase A body enzyme (chemical catalyst) found in animals and
people that helps regulate the activity of nerve impulses and is
necessary for proper nerve function. It is destroyed or damaged when
organic phosphates or carbamates enter the body by any path or in any
34. Cholinesterase inhibitor Any carbamate, organophosphate, or other
chemical that can interrupt the action of cholinesterase.
35. Common name (Generic name) A well known simple name of a pesticide
accepted by the Pesticide Regulation Division of the EPA.
36. Compatibility The mixture of two or more pesticides without altering
37. Concentration The amount of ingredient contained in a given volume or
38. Contact herbicide An herbicide which causes injury to plant tissue at
the point of contact.
39. Coverage The degree of uniformity of pesticide application over a
40. Cultural control Methods which do not involve use of chemical or
biological techniques but result in pest control. Example: Sanitation.
41. "Danger" A signal word used on pesticide labels that lets the user
know the pesticide is highly toxic (Toxicity Category I), as defined by
FIFRA (Amended). This signal word is always accompanied by the word
"Poison" and the skull and crossbones symbol.
42. Degradation The breakdown of a more complex chemical into a less
complex form; this process can be a result of the action of microbes,
water, air, sunlight, or other agents.
43. Detoxify To make harmless; to take out, take away, or neutralize a
poison; to remove a poisonous effect.
44. Diluent Any liquid or solid material (carrier) used to weaken or carry
an active ingredient (concentrated pesticide).
45. Dilute To make a pesticide less concentrated or weaker by adding water,
oil, or other liquid or solid.
46. Dip The complete or partial immersion of a plant in a pesticide.
47. Disease Any disturbance of a plant that continuously interferes with
its normal structure, function, or economic value. (Can be caused by
fungi, bacteria, viruses, and similar organisms).
48. Disinfectant An agent that kills or inactivates pathogenic organisms
within the plant or plant part.
49. Disinfestant An agent that kills or inactivates organisms present on
the surface of the plant or plant part, or the immediate environment.
50. Dispersing agent An adjuvant that reduces the attraction between
51. Dose (dosage) Amount, quantity, or portion of a pesticide which is
applied to a target area.
52. Drench Saturation (thorough soaking) of the soil or a plant with a
53. Dust (D) A finely ground dry mixture combining a small amount of
pesticide with an inert carrier such as clay, talc, or volcanic ash.
54. Emesis Vomiting.
55. Emulsifiable concentrate (EC or E) A liquid formulation containing
a high concentration of active ingredient produced by dissolving the
toxicant and an emulsifying agent in an organic solvent.
56. Emulsion A mixture in which fine particles or tiny droplets of one
liquid are suspended (mixed up) in another liquid.
57. Eradicant A pesticide which kills the pest after it appears.
58. Exposure When contact with a pesticide occurs through skin dermall),
mouth (oral), lungs (inhalation/respiratory), or eyes.
59. FIFRA (Amended) Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
(Amended) The federal law pertaining to pesticide regulations and use
in the United States. Often includes the word "(Amended)" because the
original act was changed.
60. Fixed coppers (insoluble coppers) Compounds containing copper in a
combined form. They are usually finely divided, relatively insoluble
powders or liquids easier to prepare than bordeaux mixture but not quite
so tenacious. They are evaluated on the basis of the percentage of
active agent expressed as metallic copper.
61. Flowable (F) Very finely ground solid chemical which is suspended in
a liquid; usually contains a high concentration or large amount of the
active ingredient and must be mixed with water when applied.
62. Fogger An aerosol generator; a piece of pesticide equipment that breaks
some pesticides into very fine droplets (aerosols or smokes) and blows or
drifts the "fog" onto the target area.
63. Foliar application Spraying a pesticide onto the stem, leaves, needles,
and blades of grasses, plants, shrubs, or trees.
64. Formulation The physical nature (i.e. EC, S, WP, etc.) of a pesticide
product; it may contain one or more active ingredients, the carrier, and
65. Fumigant A pesticide which enters the pest in the form of a gas and
kills it. The fumigant may be a liquid which becomes a gas when it is
66. Fungi Organisms (often microscopic) lacking chlorophyll which cause rots,
molds, and plant diseases. Mushrooms are another type of fungus.
67. Fungicide A pesticide used to kill fungi.
68. Fungistat A pesticide that keeps fungi from growing or slows down the
growth but does not kill them.
69. Gas mask A type of respirator which covers the entire face and protects
the eyes as well as the nose and mouth. It filters and cleans the air
better than cartridge respirators and is less likely to leak around the
70. Granule (G) A pesticide in the form of pellets, all of which are
larger than dust particles. A granular formulation is dry and ready-to-
use, and is madeofasmall amount of pesticide and an inert carrier.
71. Hazard The chance that injury or harm will come to the applicator,
other persons, plants, or animals because of pesticide use.
72. Herbicide A pesticide used to control unwanted plants (weeds).
73. High volume spray A spray application of more than 20 gallons per
acre, usually applied to the point of runoff.
74. Host The living plant or animal that a pest depends on for survival
for at least part of its life cycle.
75. Hydrolysis The breakdown of a compound through the action of water.
76.. Immune A state of not being affected by a disease or poison (total
77. Incompatible When two or more pesticides are mixed and the effectiveness
of one or more is decreased; therefore, not capable of being mixed or used
together. Also, when two or more pesticides are mixed and application
causes phytotoxicity which did not occur when each pesticide was applied
individually. Also, when two or more pesticides are mixed and oil, sludge,
or clumps of solids form that make application difficult or impossible.
78. Inert ingredient The substance in a pesticide product which has no
pesticidal (controlling or killing) action; an inactive ingredient.
Compare to Active ingredient.
79. Infection The establishment of a pathogen or parasite within the host
resulting in disease.
80. Infestation Pests that are found in an area or location where they are
81. Insecticide A pesticide used to control insects.
82. Integrated control The use of more than one approach to or method of
pest control; includes cultural, biological, and chemical practices.
83. Interval The time between two pesticide applications. Also, the time
period between the final pesticide application and harvest. (See Waiting
84. Label Technical information about the pesticide in the form of printed
material attached to or printed on the pesticide container.
85. LC50 The concentration of an active ingredient in the air which, when
breathed in through the lungs, kills half of the test animals exposed to
it; an expression of a compound's toxicity when present in the air as a
gas, vapor, dust, or mist. LC-50 is generally expressed in ppm (parts per
million) when a gas or vapor, and in micrograms per liter when a dust or
mist. (Note: The lower the LC-50 number value, the more poisonous the
86. LD50 The dose or amount of an active ingredient which, when taken by
mouth or absorbed by the skin, kills half of the test animals; an
expression of a compound's toxicity. LD-50 is generally expressed in
mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram). Note: The lower the LD-50 number
value, the more poisonous the pesticide.)
87. Leaching The movement of a substance downward or out of the soil as the
result of water movement.
88. Low concentrate solution (S) A solution which contains a low
concentration or small amo-nt of active ingredient in a highly refined
oil. (Note: These solutions are usually purchased as stock sprays and
space sprays and for use in aerosol generators.)
89. Low volume spray A spray application of 5-20 gallons per.acre.
90. Mechanical agitation The stirring, paddling, or swirling action of a
device which keeps a pesticide and any additives thoroughly mixed in the
91. Mist blower A machine similar to an air blast sprayer, but with some-
what lower water volume and higher air velocity, which produces extremely
92. Mites Tiny animals related to insects; they have eight jointed legs,
body regions, no antennae (feelers), or wings.
93. Miticide See Acaricide.
94. Mode of action The manner in which a pesticide controls a pest. Also,
the ways in which pesticides affect people and other mammals.
95. Mutagenic Capable of producing a genetic change or mutation.
96. Natural enemies Predators, parasites, and pathogens in the environment
which attack pest species.
97. Necrosis Death of plant cells usually resulting in the affected tissue
98. Nematicide A pesticide used to control nematodes.
99. Nematode A worm-like organism which feeds on or in plants and is
generally microscopic. Nematodes have many common names, including
roundworms, threadworms, and eelworms.
100. Non-target Any plant, animal, or other organism which is not the object
of a pesticide application.
101. Organophosphate A synthetic organic pesticide which contains carbon,
oxygen, hydrogen, and phosphorus. It acts by inhibiting a blood chemical
102. 2-PAM An antidote used for organophosphate poisoning, but not for
103. Parasite An organism that lives and feeds in or on another plant or
animal (known as the host) and obtains all or part of its nutrients from
104. Pathogen Any disease producing organism.
105. Persistent When a pesticide remains in the environment for a
relatively long time.
106. Pest An unwanted organism (insect, mite, nematode, bacterium, fungus,
virus, weed, etc.) that competes with people for food and fiber or
attacks people directly.
107. Pesticide A chemical substance, compound, or other agent used to
control, destroy, prevent damage by or protect something from a
108. pH A measurement scale used to express the acidity or alkalinity of a
solution. Examples: a pH of 7, the value for pure distilled water, is
regarded as neutral; a pH of 1 to 7 is in the acid range; and a pH of 7
to 14 is in the alkaline range.
109. Phytotoxic Harmful (poisonous or injurious) to plant.life.
110. Poisonous bait (B) A food or other substance which is mixed with a
pesticide so that a pest will be attracted to it, will eat it, and then
be killed by it.
111. Post-emergence herbicide (POE) An herbicide applied after emergence of
a specific weed or crop.
112. Pre-emergence herbicide (PE) An herbicide applied to the soil prior to
emergence of a specific weed or crop.
113. Protectant A pesticide that is applied before pests are actually found
but where they are expected. Sometimes called a "preventive."
114. PSI Pounds per square inch. A measurement of pressure.
115. Rate See dose.
116. Recommendation A suggestion from or advise given by a Farm Advisor,
Extension Specialist, or other agricultural authority.
117. Re-entry interval The period of time between a pesticide application and
when workers can safely go back into an area without wearing protective
clothing or equipment. Sometimes called "safe entry time."
118. Registered pesticide A pesticide which is approved by the U. S.
Environmental Protection Agency for use as stated on the label of the
119. Residual activity The ability of a pesticide to kill an organism for a
relatively long period following application.
120. Residue The amount of pesticide that remains on or in a crop after it
has been treated.
121. Resistant When an organism is not affected by a pesticide in the manner
or to the degree that was expected using optimal control techniques.
122. Restricted use pesticide A pesticide that has been classified, under
provisions of FIFRA (Amended), for use only by an appropriately
123. Sanitation Any activity aimed at eliminating or reducing the numbers
of a pest present in a given area. Includes removal of diseased or
infested plants, weeds, and dead plant material.
124. Saprophyte An organism that can live on dead or decaying organic
125. Selective pesticide A pesticide which is more toxic to some types of
plants or animals than to others. Smetimes known as Specific pesticide.
126. Signal words and symbol Words which must appear on pesticide labels, in
accordance with FIFRA (Amended), to show how toxic the pesticide is. The
signal words are: "Danger Poison" (for highly toxic), "Warning" (for
more moderately toxic), and "Caution" (for low-order toxicity). The
symbol of the skull and crossbones must appear on the labels of highly
toxic pesticides (along with the words "Danger-Poison").
127. Site An area, location, building, structure, plant, animal, or other
organism to be treated with a pesticide to protect it from or to reach
and control the target pest. (Critical label information.)
128. Slurry A watery mixture, such as liquid mud, cement, etc. Fungicides
can be applied to seeds as slurries to minimize dustiness and improve
129. Soil incorporation The mixing of a pesticide into the soil by mechanical
means; usually consists of a pesticide application to the soil followed
some sort of tillage.
130. Soluble powder (SP) A dry (powder) preparation which contains a fairly
high concentration (15%-95%) of active ingredient that dissolves in
water (or another liquid) and forms a solution so that it can be applied.
131. Solution The mixture of one or more substances into another substance
(usually a liquid) in which all ingredients are completely dissolved
without their chemical characteristics changing; this mixture will not
settle out or separate in normal use.
132. Spot treatment A pesticide application directed at a small area, such as
at specific plants. Opposite of a general application.
133. Spreader An adjuvant which reduces the surface tension and generally
increases the area that a given volume of liquid will cover on a solid
surface (such as a leaf).
134. Sticker An adjuvant (extender) which increases the adherence of a
135. Surfactant An adjuvant which improves the emulsifying, dispersing,
spreading, and wetting properties of a pesticide.
136. Susceptible Capable of being injured, diseased, or poisoned by a
pesticide; not immune.
137. Suspension A pesticide formulation in which finely divided solid
particles of an active ingredient are mixed (dispersed) in a liquid.
138. Synergism Increased activity arising from the effect of one chemical on
another. Opposite of antagonism.
139. Systemic A pesticide that is taken up by one part of a plant and
moved to another section where it acts against a pest.
140. Target An area, building, animal, plant, or pest which is to be
treated with a pesticide.
141. Teratogensis The malformation of a fetus with structural abnormalities
being present at birth or becoming evident shortly after birth.
142. Tolerance The amount (expressed in ppm) of pesticide that may legally
and safely remain in or on any raw farm products at the time of sale.
Also, the ability of an organism to withstand unfavorable conditions.
Toxicant Poison; an agent capable of being toxic.
Toxicity How poisonous a pesticide is to an organism; the ability of a
pesticide to produce injury.
Trade name same as brand name.
Translocation Distribution of a pesticide from the point of absorption
to other parts of the plant or animal.
147. Ultra low volume (ULV) A spray application of a pesticide that is almost
pure active ingredient (technical material); it is sprayed in extremely
small amounts over a large area (usually only a few ounces per acre and
not more than I gallon per acre).
Vapor Gas, steam, mist, fog, fume, or smoke.
Vector A carrier of a disease-producing organism (pathogen); an insect
or other animal that transmits a pathogen.
150. Virus A submicroscopic pathogen (disease-producing organism) that needs
living cells to grow and can cause disease in plants and animals,
including people; it is too small to be seen with a normal microscope.
151. Volatility How quickly and easily a liquid or solid evaporates at
ordinary temperatures when exposed to the air.
152. Waiting period The period of time that is required between the final
pesticide application and harvesting; the time interval ensures that the
legal residue tolerance will not be exceeded.
153. "Warning" A signal word used on pesticide labels that lets the user
know the pesticide is moderately toxic. [Toxicity Category II, as defined
by FIFRA (Amended).]
154. Wettable powder (WP or W) A dry (powder) preparation that is mixed with
water to form a suspension which is used for spraying. Unlike a soluble
powder, it does not dissolve in water; therefore, formulation requires
that a slurry be made and added to the partially-filled tank and that the
tank then be filled up. (Note: If wettable powders are just dumped into
the tank, it may result in a lumpy formulation which can clog nozzles and
result in improper application.)
155. Wetting agent An adjuvant which reduces surface tension and allows a
pesticide to spread out and more evenly coat a surface.
1. Agrios, G. G. 1969. Plant Pathology. Academic Press. New York,
NY. 629 pp.
2. Berg, G. L. (ed.). 1981. 1980 Farm Chemicals Handbook. Meister
Publishing Co., Willoughby, OH. 707 pp.
3. Moller, W. J., D. H. Hall, A. H. McCain, and A. 0. Paulus. 1972.
Study Guide for Agricultural Pest Control Advisors on Plant Diseases.
Div. of Agric. Sci. Univ. of California. Sale Publication 4046.
4. Mullison, W. R., R. W. Bovey, A. P. Burkhalter, T. D. Burkhalter,
H. M. Hull, D. L. Sutton, and R. E. Tolbert. 1979. Herbicide Handbook
of the Weed Science Society of America. 4th edition. Weed Science
Soc. of America. Champaign, IL 479 pp.
5. Stimmann, M. W. 1977. Pesticide applications and safety training.
Div. of Agric. Sci. Univ. of California. Sale Publication 4070. 98 pp.