The Online Gardener's Handbook 2010
Chapter 2: Integrated Pest Management
Pesticides in an Integrated Pest Management Approach

The term "pesticide" is a general name for a substance which is used to prevent, destroy, mitigate or repel unwanted animals, diseases or plants. Pesticides include insecticides that control insects; fungicides that control diseases caused by fungi; herbicides that control weeds; and others.

Provincial Cosmetic Pesticides Ban

Ontario's Cosmetic Pesticide Ban came into effect on April 22, 2009. This ban prohibits the sale and use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. The requirements of the ban are detailed in Ontario Regulation 63/09. The provincial ban on cosmetic pesticides supersedes local municipal pesticides bylaws which may have previously been established in your area.

There are 11 classes of pesticides in Ontario Regulation 63/09 and these are listed on the Ministry of the Environment's web site. Pesticide products banned for sale and use are listed in class 8.

Domestic pesticides which have been banned (i.e. are listed in Class 8) can be disposed of under the Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program (MHSW) program that began on July 1, 2008. Consumers may drop off pesticides products to participating MHSW collection events or depots.

Under the ban, the following types of Domestic products are allowed for sale and use in Ontario:

  • Products used to protect human health, such as the control of mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Virus, or the control of wasps;
  • Products that are essential to protect the health of pets (e.g. control of fleas);
  • Products used inside homes to control pests that may destroy food, furnishings or cause structural damage to homes; and
  • Certain lower risk pesticides and biopesticides (Class 11) to manage weeds, insects and plant diseases on lawns and in gardens, parks and school yards and other land exterminations.

These Domestic products are listed in Class 5, 6 or 7 (see lists on MOE website). Note that Class 7 pesticides may also have a cosmetic use listed on their label; however Class 7 pesticide can only be used for non-cosmetic purposes. For example, a pesticide that can be used to control poison ivy cannot be used to control weeds on patios or driveways.

The use of biopesticides and certain lower-risk pesticides are allowed under the ban for controlling weeds and pests in lawns and gardens. Biopesticides (e.g. Btk which is a bacterium that controls certain caterpillars) and certain lower risk pesticides (such as some insecticidal soaps) are available to home gardeners to manage insects. The biopesticides are those designated as such by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Lower risk pesticides were selected based on PMRA's proposed criteria for low risk pesticides that have characteristics such as low toxicity to humans, minimal impact to the environment, and act in a non-toxic way in controlling intended pests.

For more information on Ontario's cosmetic pesticide ban, refer to the Ministry of the Environment's website.

Homemade Pesticides

There are many internet sites or other sources which provide "recipes" for homemade pesticides that claim to control a wide variety of pests. Gardeners should be aware that the preparation and use of such products may pose a number of safety risks, both personal and environmental.

In Canada, all pesticides must be registered under the Pest Control Products Act, administered by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). This registration process involves the scientific evaluation of each product to ensure they meet health and safety standards, that the product works as claimed, and to ensure there is a product label which provides information on how to safely and effectively use the product. Homemade pesticides have not undergone this evaluation process and consequently, there is no way of knowing whether they will work as planned and/or be safe to you, your garden and the environment. For example, the preparation of homemade products may expose you or your family to harmful toxins, or an untested homemade product may actually damage the plant you are trying to protect.

Health Canada has prepared a brochure which provides information on the risks associated with using homemade pesticides. It can be found on their website.

Pesticides and This Handbook

Only cultural and biological controls for listed pests will be discussed throughout this Handbook. Pesticides are not recommended in this book, even though some may be available under the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban. Information on products permitted under the ban can be found on the Ministry of Environment's website.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300