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Definition of Terms


Action Thresholds: An action threshold is the point at which an IPM Pro takes action to reduce a pest’s numbers. Below the designated pest level, control action isn’t normally taken.

Application: Applying a product to manage pests.

Asthma: A condition, often allergic in origin, that is marked by continuous labored breathing, wheezing, a tightening of the chest and attacks of coughing and gasping.

Bacteria: Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms.

Bait: A product manufactured with food or other materials that pests consume. They often contain an active ingredient that helps control the pests. Other baits may not contain an active ingredient and are used for monitoring pest activity.

Bait stations: Bait stations are containers used to house bait for pests such as ants, cockroaches or rodents.  Stations vary in appearance depending on type and model. Typically placed near harborage areas, a bait station should allow for easy monitoring of bait levels, sometimes by using clear view ports.

Botulism: A form of food poisoning generally caused by the ingestion of a toxin stemming from improper storage of food or beverages.


Commensal: Rodents are commensal in nature, which means to “share one’s table.”  These rodents are able to thrive in human environments.  The main three commensal rodents are Norway rats, roof rats, and house mice.

Conjunctivitis: Inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the inner surface of the eyelids and the forepart of the eyeball.

Contaminant: Any deleterious substance found in or on a surface or material where it was not intended.

Cryptococcosis: An infectious disease that is caused by the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans and is characterized by the development of nodular lesions or abscesses in the lungs, subcutaneous tissues, joints and especially the brain.

Dust: A finely ground, dry mixture containing a small amount of an active ingredient and an inert carrier, such as talc or clay.


Encephalitis: Inflammation of the brain.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): United States federal agency responsible for establishing and overseeing pesticide regulations.

Escherichia coli (E. coli): Bacteria capable of causing infections and illness. Most E. coli illness is caused by eating contaminated, undercooked meats.

Exclusion: Keeping insects, flies, rodents, and birds from entering a building.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA): An agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation of various food safety, pharmaceutical, dietary, tobacco, medical, and veterinary products.

Food chain: A way of describing how all animals depend on each other for food. It is the link between producers, herbivores and predators.  

Food poisoning: An acute gastrointestinal illness caused by bacteria or their toxic products.

Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA): A law passed in 1996 with the intent of addressing the problem of resistance trends in pathogenic bacteria and the multitude of new and more deadly pathogens.

Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): Signed into law on January 4, 2011 to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to preventing it, giving the FDA new authorities to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested, and processed.

Fungus: A group of microorganisms that includes molds and yeast.


Gastroenteritis: Inflammation of the membrane lining of the stomach and intestines.

Granules (or pellets): A formulation of dry, ready-to-use, low-concentrate pesticides plus an inert carrier. The particleslarger than those making up a dust.

Histoplasmosis: A respiratory disease with symptoms like those of influenza that is caused by a fungus (Histoplasma capsulatum), typically associated with contamination from bird droppings.


Insect Growth Regulators (IGR): A group of compounds that can disrupt a number of normal processes in the growth and development of insects.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM): IPM is an approach to managing pests that relies on a combination of non-pesticide alternatives such as aggressive sanitation, pest exclusion, traps, and surveillance techniques that are effective, as well as product application as needed. IPM is designed to place stress on pest populations through a series of processes that reduce nesting and breeding areas and pest entry points.

Listeriosis: An illness that originates from consumption of unpasteurized milk or products made with raw milk.


Newcastle disease: A destructive virus, contracted from birds, especially domestic fowl, that is caused by a paramyxovirus. Primary symptoms are respiratory disease and central nervous system irregularities.

Outbreak: In the case of food-borne illness, an outbreak is an incident in which two or more people experience the same illness, symptoms or reaction after eating the same food.


Paramyxovirus: Any of a group of viruses that contain RNA and are similar to, but larger and more variable in size than the related myxovirus (any of a group of RNA-containing viruses, including those that cause influenza). The paramyxoviruses include the Sendai virus, the parainfluenza viruses, and the viruses that cause measles and mumps.

Parasite: An organism that lives on or in another organism. Parasites take food and shelter from the host, and can release toxins or other substances that are harmful to the host.

Pathogens: Disease-causing agents. Food-borne illness results from consuming food contaminated with pathogens.

Pesticide: A product or material that is used to control pests.

Fungicide: A pesticide that will kill fungi that cause plant diseases, molds, or mildew.

Herbicide: A pesticide that will kill a variety of plant species.

Insecticide: A pesticide that will kill a variety of insect species.

Residual: A pesticide that lasts several hours or longer and is applied as a general, spot, or crack and crevice treatment.

Nonresidual: A pesticide that does not kill beyond the initial application. Typically used to “flush” pests out of areas that are difficult to reach. The pesticide will lose its toxicity within a few hours of application, although most non-residual pesticides have acute actions, meaning quick results.

Rodenticide: A pesticide formulated to control mice and rats.

Single-dose: A pesticide that will cause death after a single feeding.

Multiple feeding: A pesticide that can cause death when consumed in lesser amounts over a period of several days.

Desiccant: A pesticide that draws out the moisture (liquid) insects need to survive.

Nonpersistent: A pesticide that lasts a short time (a few weeks or less) after being applied and breaks down rapidly in the environment.

Nonselective: A pesticide that will control a wide range of pests.

Pesticide Amendment of 1954: This amended the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and gave the FDA the authority to establish pesticide tolerances for agricultural commodities.

Plague: An infectious disease of animals and humans caused by a bacterium named Yersinia pestis. It is spread from rats to humans via rat fleas. Plague killed 25 million people in Europe during the fourteenth century. Modern antibiotics are effective against plague, but the disease is likely to cause illness or death if an infected person is not treated promptly. Plague does exist in the U.S. today, although it is very uncommon and rarely fatal.

Pneumonia: A disease of the lungs caused by infection or irritants.

Rat-bite fever: Rat-bite fever is caused by the bacterium Streptobacillis monoiliformis.


Salmonellosis: This disease can be transmitted through undercooked or raw poultry and eggs or undercooked or raw products containing eggs (i.e., mayonnaise). Salmonella bacteria are commonly spread through food contaminated with rodent or insect feces.

Shigellosis: An infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella.

Synanthropic: A term applied to species of wild animals such as insects, rodents and birds that exhibit a preference to live in human settlements.

Thigmotropic: A behavior exhibited by cockroaches in which they prefer the side or top of their bodies touching other objects.

Thorax: The second or middle region — between the head and the abdomen — in insects bearing true legs and wings.

Toxoplasmosis: The infection of birds, humans, other mammals with a toxoplasma (Toxoplasma gondii).

Trichinosis: A disease caused by eating inadequately cooked pork containing Trichinea.

Typhus/Typhoid: Murine typhus is transmitted from infected rats to people by fleas.


Virus: A submicroscopic pathogen that invades living cells.

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