A variety of pesticides in a cardboard box

A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances used to destroy, repel or control certain forms of plant or animal life that are considered to be pests. These substances provide a way to control insects on food crops, rodents that carry diseases and mold and mildew growth. Pesticides include, but are not limited to, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and rodenticides. Herbicides destroy weeds and other unwanted vegetation. Insecticides control a wide variety of insects. Fungicides are used to prevent mold and mildew growth. Rodenticides are used to control mice and rats. 


Unfortunately, pesticides can harm more than just the “pests” they target. If improperly disposed of or misused through improper application, such as over-spraying, pesticides can make their way into our soil and groundwater or runoff into streams and lakes. Invertebrates in streams are also insects, just the aquatic or larval forms of the land dwelling (terrestrial) varieties. Pesticides designed for terrestrial insects also affect aquatic insects through the same pathways.

As pests become tolerant of commonly used pesticides, new pesticides are developed to combat them. New advances in pesticides are accompanied by different chemicals, which can lead to new and unstudied contaminants and health concerns. Human exposure to pesticides can cause a number of adverse health effects, including respiratory problems and cancer.  

Reduce/ Reuse

A quick online search can give you alternatives to conventional pesticides. Some gardeners repel specific pests by using companion planting or biocontrol, which involves introducing a pest's natural enemy. There are also recipes for natural and homemade pesticides available that use ingredients found in your home, such as soap, eggs, garlic, mint, salt and chili pepper.  

To avoid having to dispose of usable pesticides, ask a friend or neighbor if they can use the product for its intended purpose, provided the pesticide is in its original, fully labeled container and still legal to use. 

Recycle/ Disposal

If you cannot find someone to use the pesticide and you no longer have a use for the product, the department's Missouri Pesticide Collection Program offers Missouri farmers and households an opportunity for safe, free disposal of unwanted or unusable pesticides. Simply bring your pesticide to a collection event during the specified times for drop-off. Your pesticide will be handled by an approved hazardous waste contractor and sent to a permitted hazardous waste incineration facility for disposal. If you do plan to take your pesticides to an event, please review How To Safely Transport Your Waste Pesticides - PUB2934.