Pest Control Devices1
Frederick M. Fishel2
Pesticides are commonly thought of as chemicals that are federally regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA also has a role in regulating devices used to control pests. How a device might be regulated, however, depends on the device's specific design, function, and whether it incorporates or is used with a pesticide. This publication's purpose is to help better readers understand the difference between a pest control device and a pesticide.
What are the differences?
Key differences between pest control devices, pesticide products, and certain combinations can be illustrated as follows:
A pesticide product is considered a substance or mixture of substances designed to prevent, attract, repel, destroy, or mitigate a pest (Figure 1).
A product is a pest control device if it uses only physical or mechanical means to trap, destroy, repel, or mitigate any pest and does not include any pesticidal substance or mixture of substances. An example is a tamper-proof rodent bait station sold without containing rodenticide (Figure 2).
Pesticide application equipment that is sold separately from the pesticide itself is not considered to be a device or a pesticide. For example, a sprayer for a lawn pesticide (Figure 3) that is sold separately from the pesticide is application equipment—it is neither a device nor a pesticide and is not regulated by the EPA.
If a device and a pesticide product are packaged together, that combined product is a pesticide product subject to registration requirements. For example, octenol is registered as a pesticide product intended to attract certain species of mosquitoes and biting flies. If octenol is distributed or sold in—or packaged with—a trap for that purpose, the combination product is a pesticide product that must be EPA-registered separately. If the trap is sold without the octenol, it is a device regulated by EPA.
Regulated Pest Control Devices
Although pest control devices are not required to be registered with the EPA, some other regulatory requirements do apply. Some common examples of such pest control devices that are subject to the other regulatory requirements are:
Ultraviolet light systems, certain water and air filters, or ultrasonic devices that make claims that the device kills, inactivates, entraps, or suppresses growth of fungi, bacteria, or viruses in various sites
High-frequency sound generators, carbide cannons, foils, and rotating devices that make claims about repelling pests, such as birds and mice
Black light traps, fly traps (with food as the only attractant source), electronic and heat screens, fly ribbons, glueboards, and fly paper that make claims about killing or entrapping insects
Mole thumpers, sound repellants, foils, and rotating devices that make claims about repelling certain mammals
Devices are subject to certain labeling requirements. Labels for devices must meet certain requirements to ensure that they are not misbranded. The requirements dealing with misbranding are established by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and include, but are not limited to, the following:
Devices cannot bear any statements that are false or misleading.
The pesticide establishment number of the device's producer must appear on the label and on the outer container or wrapper if it cannot be seen because of the packaging.
Any facility producing a device must be registered with the EPA and have an establishment number. Producing establishments are also subject to reporting requirements. Each facility that produces pesticides and/or devices must submit a report to EPA by March 1 each year. The report lists names and amounts, or number of pesticides or devices produced or repackaged, and amounts sold or distributed during the previous calendar year.
Unregulated Pest Control Devices
Examples of unregulated pest control devices include:
Those which depend more on the performance of the person using the device than on the performance of the device itself for its effectiveness
Those which operate to entrap vertebrate animals, such as traditional mouse traps, except glueboards
Products generally falling within these two categories include rat and mouse traps, fly swatters, tillage equipment for weed control, and fish traps.
Fishel, F. M. 2005. What Is and Isn't a Pesticide? PI-96. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pi133). Viewed January 2013.
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. (http://www.flaes.org/). Viewed January 2013.
This document is PI229, one of a series of the Agronomy Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date June 2010. Revised February 2013 and March 2016. Reviewed March 2019. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.
Frederick M. Fishel, professor, Agronomy Department, and director, Pesticide Information Office; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.
The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this publication do not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition. All chemicals should be used in accordance with directions on the manufacturer's label. Use pesticides safely. Read and follow directions on the manufacturer's label.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.