Newsletter – Pesticide Labels (Cary Sims, CEA, ANR – Angelina Co.)

Ag News

Contact: Cary Sims: 936.634.6414 |

Always Read the Label

As spring is in full force and we spend more time outside in pastures, gardens, or other green spaces, an observant eye will notice unwanted pests. As is common, our office gets a number of calls and walk-ins about pest problems in the yard, garden, pasture, and other sites. The question is two-fold: what is it and what can I do about it?

Once identified there are (typically) a few options on how to control the pest, whether the pest is a weed, insect, disease, or something else. But with the control options and great products at our disposal, they won’t do what they are meant to if we don’t read and follow the label.

True, labels are great for putting one to sleep. Also true, I’m the guy who wants to skip the instructions when assembling furniture.

Nonetheless, if you have armyworms in your hay meadow, fleas in the yard, duckweed in the pond, downy mildew on your Crepe Myrtles, gummy stem blight on your tomatoes, or smartweed in the pasture, the recommended “solution” won’t do you much good if you don’t follow the label.

The pesticide product label gives you important information about how to use the pesticide effectively and safely. Read the label before you buy the product and each time before you use the product.

You may only use the pesticide on sites or crops listed on the label. For instance, the pesticide label will tell you whether or not you may use the pesticide inside your home. If you are treating a vegetable garden, be sure the label says you can use the pesticide on your garden crop.

In the home landscape, there are turf and ornamental pesticides may not be used in food-producing vegetable gardens. The label may tell you what plants should not be treated because of the chance of injuring the plant, or under what conditions you may, or may not, apply the pesticide.

The pesticide label also tells you about special precautions you must take when you use the pesticide. These include keeping people, and especially kids, safe. It will also include statements warning about not contaminating foods, feeds, and water; not applying pesticides when it is windy; or not allowing the pesticide to drift or runoff.

The pesticide label will contain a signal word that will generally indicate how toxic the product is to humans. There are three signal words: CAUTION, WARNING, or DANGER. Signal words will usually be in capital letters. The least toxic products carry the signal word CAUTION. Products with

the signal word WARNING on the label are more toxic. The most toxic pesticides have the signal word DANGER on their labels.

The pesticide label lists personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing that you must wear when mixing and applying pesticides. The label will also tell you how long you must wait until you can reenter a treated area, or how long you must wait to harvest food plants after an application. It provides first aid information under a section called “Statement of Practical Treatment” or “First Aid.”

The pesticide label will also tell you how to store the product safely, and how to dispose of the empty container or unused pesticide properly.

Always remember to read and heed the six most important words on the label: “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.”

Please, always READ and follow the label directions exactly.


Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is

Educational programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, national origin, genetic information, or veteran status. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating.

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