Environmental Health Practitioner Manual: A resource manual for Environmental Health Practitioners working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities

6 Other methods of pest control

Page last updated: November 2010

The use of pesticides to control pests should always be the last resort. Other action can be taken around homes and communities to control pests. Most of these actions simply relate to clean and healthy living.

6.1 Hygiene as a method of pest control

When houses and yards are kept clean, there is no food for pests and nowhere for them to live and breed, and this in turn means that there are few pests.

Pests can be controlled by practising good hygiene in the following ways:
  • Clean up after meals. Put food scraps in the bin, and wash and dry plates, cups, glasses, cutlery and cooking pots after use.
  • Put all rubbish into the bin
  • Wrap all food scraps tightly in paper before putting them in the bin
  • Keep all the benches, cupboards and floors clean and free of food scraps
  • Regularly clean behind stoves, refrigerators and other household appliances
  • Keep food in containers with tight-fitting lids
  • Use the toilet properly. Make sure that all urine and faeces goes into the pedestal pan and that the toilet is flushed after use. Toilet paper is the only kind of paper that should be flushed down the toilet.
  • Make sure the toilet is clean and the cistern works correctly
  • Make sure that all septic tanks and leach drains are well sealed
  • Make sure that the community rubbish tip is operated correctly with the rubbish being buried regularly
  • Use flyscreens to stop pests entering the house and seal holes around pipes
There is little point to having a pesticide program to control domestic pests if the relevant hygiene factors are not addressed as well. The pests will soon return if good hygiene is not maintained.

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6.2 Biological control methods

Biological control methods can also be used to control pests. These methods include using natural enemies of the pest and biologically interfering with their ability to breed. Pesticides are not used.

Two examples of biological control methods are:
  • the use of Australian native fish to feed on mosquito larvae in water bodies
  • the use of the dung beetle to break down and bury cow faeces so that it is no longer available as a breeding place for flies
However, biological control methods can go wrong. One such example was the introduction of the giant cane toad to Queensland some years ago to control cane beetles. It was though the toad would to feed on the cane beetles and so reduce their numbers. But the toad was not successful in controlling cane beetles. Instead the poisonous toads multiplied rapidly, and have now become a major environmental pest in Queensland, the Northern Territory, and are likely to enter the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

There are other areas where biological products have been successfully introduced to control pests. One such example is the use of BTI to control mosquito larvae. BTI is a larvicide composed of a toxin producing bacteria. The mosquito larvae are killed when they eat the bacteria. BTI will not kill mosquito pupae.

BTI comes in liquid and granule form and is added to water bodies. BTI will not be effective if the dose rate for the amount of water is not correct. The correct method of application is very important to get the best results.