Pest Control

Sign up to receive e-mail updates for this page

Find less toxic pest control products with the new Our Water Our World app! 

UPDATE: Look for the new Our Water Our World logo coming to stores this Fall!


Less than 2% of the insects you encounter in the garden will be pests. The vast majority of insects in your yard are not harmful - they're either beneficial or neutral. In the interest in keeping them alive, take a targeted, selective approach to dealing with the insects that are pests.


The following common insect pests can be controlled using integrated pest management (IPM) practices. IPM is a strategy that emphasizes less-toxic control solutions that cause the least environmental damage; keeping pests at acceptable, low-levels.


Indoor Pests: Ants, Spiders, Cockroaches, Fleas, Rats & Mice
Outdoor Pests: Aphids, Mosquitoes, Snails & Slugs, Yellowjackets


Local Mosquito Resource: San Mateo County Mosquito Abatement District


10 Most Wanted Bugs in your Garden this brochure shows both the adult and larvae stages of beneficial bugs that consume large number of insects or pollinate plants. Do not attempt to apprehend them, just let them serve time in your garden.


Ant management videos from UC IPM online including: What to do if you have an ant emergency; Why do ants invade?; Overview of ant management; Ant inspection; Using Baits; and Refillable Bait Stations.


Retail Partnership Program: "Our Water, Our World"


As part of a program called "Our Water Our World", we have partnered with retail stores to make less toxic pest control and gardening products more available to consumers, with the goal of reducing the amount of pesticides entering creeks and the Bay through sewers and storm drain systems. Participating stores (shown below) provide fact sheets and "shelf talkers" to make it easy for you to choose a less or non-toxic product.


Our Water, Our World Participating Stores in San Mateo County


Click here to view a larger map.


 North County
Brisbane Hardware1 Visitacion AveBrisbane
Home Depot2 Colma BlvdColma
Home Depot303 E. Lake Merced Blvd.Daly City
Orchard Supply Hardware2245 Gellert BlvdSo. San Francisco
Orchard Supply Hardware900 El Camino RealMillbrae
Orchard Supply Hardware1010 Metro Center BlvdFoster City
Golden Nursery1122 Second Ave.San Mateo
Hassett Ace Hardware 545 First StreetSan Mateo
Home Depot2001 Chess DriveSan Mateo
South County
Carlmont Ace Hardware1029 Alameda De Las PulgasBelmont
Carlmont Nursery2029 RalstonBelmont
Home Depot1125 Old County RdSan Carlos
Wegman's Nursery492 Woodside RdRedwood City
Orchard Supply Hardware2110 Middlefield RoadRedwood City
Lyngso Garden Materials, Inc.19 Seaport Blvd.Redwood City
Home Depot1781 East Bayshore RoadEast Palo Alto
Linda Mar Hardware560 San Pedro AvePacifica
Half Moon Bay Nursery11691 San Mateo Rd.Half Moon Bay
Hassett Ace Hardware 111 Main StreetHalf Moon Bay




Shelf Talkers are small tags placed beneath less toxic products on store shelves that indicate the product is less- or non-toxic to people and pets, but formulated to control and get rid of the targeted pest problem




Pest Control Products to Avoid


  • Aerosols and Home Foggers disperse chemicals in a way that significantly increase the risk of exposure to people and pets.
  • Metaldehyde Snail Baits contribute to hundreds of pet poisonings per year.
  • Pyrethroids are a threat to water quality and are highly toxic to aquatic insects and crustaceans. Avoid products that end in "thrin". The exception to this is pyrethrin which is produced naturally from the chrysanthemum flower.
  • Lawn Pesticides are rarely, if ever, needed for home lawns. Chemicals in them are linked to adverse long term health effects. In particular weed and feed" type products, which mix fertilizers with pesticides, result in unnecessary pesticide use.


Fact Sheets Displayed in Store:


Less Toxic Product Lists

Products are labeled at partnership stores based on both the Bio-Integral Resource Center ( directory of less toxic products and the criteria defined by water quality protection agencies.
OWOW Less Toxic Product List - By Pest
OWOW Less Toxic Product List - Alphabetical by Product
List of Less Toxic Active Ingredients

More Information about Pesticides
Pesticide Use & Disposal
Pesticides and Water Pollution
Pesticide Chemical Search
Beyond Pesticides
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides
Pesticide Action Network
Pest Wise an EPA Partnership Program

Greener Pest Control: San Francisco Estuary Partnership Communications Officer Athena Honore and EcoWise Certified Program Manager Ted Shapas talk about the importance of integrated pest management and offer tips for homeowners and building managers. (11/23/2010) Watch video

Controlling Ants in Your Home: Ant pesticides are so toxic that even tiny amounts sprayed in and around your house can kill the microscopic creatures at the base of the food chain in creeks many miles downstream. In this report, we offer environmentally sound methods to deter ants from entering your home. (11/23/2010) Watch video


More Information on Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
UC IPM Online California Statewide IPM Program
Bio-Integral Resource Center (BIRC) IPM Specialists
IPM Institute of North America

Shimon Steinberg: Natural pest control ... using bugs!


The Gardener's Guide to Common-Sense Pest Control, William Olkowski, Tanton Press, 1995.

The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control, Barbara Ellis, Rodale Press, 1996.

Organic Pest and Disease Control: How to Grow a Healthy, Problem Free Garden, Barbara Ellis, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1997.

Controlling Pests and Diseases, Patricia S. Michalak, Rodale Press, 1994.