Biocides, rodenticides and other vPBT substances have been critically discussed not only since yesterday. Despite proven environmental impacts, such as on non-target animals and water bodies, toxic baits remain a common tool for many pest controllers. But recently, three new publications from the Federal Environment Agency have provided new talking points in the pest control industry and lent new vigor to the discussion about possible alternatives.

For those who want to read up on the issues surrounding secondary poisoning, the dramatic effects of toxic baits used in municipal rat control in sewers, and environmental pollution (even with appropriate risk reduction measures (RMMs)), see the following issues:

  • 142/200 Alternatives to biocide use (June 2020).
  • Research for the causes of detected water pollution with rodenticides (EPT substances) and and elaboration of RMM for the protection of the aquatic environment (July 2020).
  • 159/200 Effectiveness and further development of RMM […] (August 2020).


Minimizing the application of anticoagulant agents classified as vPBT agents is urgently needed. And the good news is that valid alternatives have been available for years, some of which rely on the latest technology, but are also based on time-honored, nature-based methods that have been all but forgotten in recent generations of pest control.

The best alternatives to rodenticides and biocides include natural, biological and ecological pest control methods, virtual monitoring and IPM (Integrated Pest Management) control approaches.

The alternatives presented below not only follow the maxim of environmental protection, but also offer pest controllers the following advantages:

  • Slow/no development of pest resistance to toxins.
  • Better ratings in audits (e.g. by suppliers or for standards such as IFS Food)
  • Proactive approach changes the pest control professional’s role from “fire extinguisher” to consulting fire protection expert

Definition biological pest control (also known as natural pest control).

Biological pest control describes the use of living organisms and viruses to limit certain pests. This often involves the use of natural enemies of a harmful species (so-called beneficial insects). Theoretically, the unwanted species can also be modified to fight itself – for example, through the use of viruses or genetic modifications. However, this method does not play a role in daily pest control.

Note: There is no clear demarcation of terms between natural and biological pest control and the terms are often used interchangeably.

Examples and methods of biological pest control

Rodents such as rats and mice in particular have numerous natural enemies. Particularly dramatic is the fact that when anticoagulants are used, they are often co-loaded by secondary poisoning. This phenomenon has been observed in birds of prey, which became ill themselves by eating poisoned rats and mice, and whose populations subsequently declined.

A prime example of a biological method of pest control is the construction of perches for birds of prey in a field or farm area, or simply the acquisition of cats. Many people have also made use of biological pest control in the private sphere – namely in the kitchen. The ichneumon wasp or storage wasp is used against food and clothing moths and is another common example of biological control.


  • Completely toxic free
  • Natural enemies of an undesirable species multiply and thus continuously ensure its decimation. As a result, no major human intervention is required.
  • Can restore natural balances


  • An ecosystem is being interfered with. This, in turn, can be dangerous if done excessively (example: the Aga toad was used in Australia to control sugarcane pests, but then became a nuisance and a pest itself).
  • Time delayed effect


Definition ecological pest control

The term ecology refers to the interactions between living things and their environment. Colloquially, what is considered ecological is what preserves or protects the environment and promotes healthy interactions. Thus, all the methods of ecological pest control that allow the protection of the environment – especially by preventing pest infestations – count.

The use of toxic baits would be a clear example of non-ecological pest control.

Examples and methods of ecological pest control

Biological pest control described above is a very good example of a method of ecological pest control. In addition, the term also includes those methods that prevent the spread of a pest in the first place. Common ecological methods include:

  • In agriculture: crop rotations that strengthen the ecosystem
  • Virtual monitoring
  • Integrated control concepts
  • Cultural and hygienic measures
  • Physical/structural barriers such as RatCap
  • Biological methods (see above)
  • (Digital) impact traps against rodents, such as our eMitter


  • Sustainably effective without the risk of resistance to poisons
  • Required by common methods such as HACCP and standards such as AIB, IFS, etc.
  • Allows pest controllers to move from “box checker” to valued consultant alongside a company
  • Protect the environment, no risk of secondary poisoning, water pollution, etc.


  • Require some rethinking and possibly further training
  • May require higher upfront investment (e.g., switching to digital impact traps or sealing rodent entry points)


Whether the advantages or disadvantages of organic and biological pest control outweigh the disadvantages is no longer a question in 2020. The need to protect nature is so urgent that the switch to natural alternatives in pest control cannot be postponed any longer.

Pest controllers who resist new methods will have a hard time attracting large, well-known companies as customers. This is because not only legislators and the Federal Environment Agency see the use of poisons as increasingly irresponsible, but also industry standards and the requirements of customers are becoming stricter.

Alternatives to rodenticide use have been available for years – mature, effective and economical.