Aesthetic injury

Thepeststatus of some arthropods in domesticand peridomestic habitats is based solely on an intolerance of their presence. For many people there is a psychological or emotional sensitivity to the presence of an insect or other arthropod. The living space is a personal and sacred place, the presence of insects or other animals may directly affect the quality of life there, and their presence is usually considered unacceptable. Tolerance for animals in this space is usually low, and control is based on an emotional or aesthetic threshold.

Food contaminated with foreign matter is unacceptable on aesthetic and generalhealth basis. However, insects, mites, and other arthropods are so ubiquitous and so numerous that few, if any, food can be free of at least a small amount of damage or contamination by them. In general, government agencies have established maximum levels for natural or unavoidable defects in food for human use that present no health hazard. The assumption that these defects, which are usually in the form of live or dead insects, body fragments, and other organic material, are harmless is based more on experience than on experiment. It is expected that, if any risk to human health were identified to be associated with these allowable defects, the tolerance levels would be revised in favor of human health. The average consumer may understand and accept that pure food, such that it is free of all contamination, may be difficult to achieve in a consistent manner, but that excessive contamination by insects or other material is unacceptable, at least on an aesthetic basis.

An aesthetic injury level is a decision threshold for a pest control action that is similar to the economic threshold applied to agricultural pests. The economic threshold is a measured pest density at which control actions should be taken to prevent a pest population from reaching the economic injury level. In the urban environment, aesthetic considerations rather than economic ones are often critical in initiating control actions. Aesthetic injury may be associated with a specific number of individual pests, such as sighting one to two cockroaches within 24 h indoors, having three to four mosquito bites outdoors in 4 h, or sighting two to four wasps outdoors in the vicinity of the house. Indoors, the most common arthropods that lead to a control action at a low density are cockroaches, silverfish, moth flies, and carpet beetles (adults and larvae). Tolerance for seasonal pests, such as ants, fruit flies, cluster flies, and fungus gnats may be somewhat higher, perhaps due to their regular occurrence. Outdoors, aggregations ofinsects often lead to control actions; common pests in this category are boxelder bug, ladybird beetle, elm leafbeetle, and cricket. Large numbers of chironomids, winged ants, and mayflies may be a nuisance, but control measures are usually not practical.

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