According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “pesticides” include products developed to kill anything considered a pest — insects, worms, plants, fungi, and rodents. It’s worth examining how much risk to the planet and our health we are willing to pose for the elimination of a plant or bug.
The market for these chemicals grew after World War II. Their indiscriminate use was marked by a hopeful naiveté that chemical application targeting dandelions, beetles and other "pests" would do away with arduous yard work without consequences.
Then, as now, Americans believed that “if a product could be sold, it must be safe, (and) embraced the new chemical products for the home and yard,” according to historian Virginia Jenkins. She quotes a 1947 article that stated DDT was considered “effective, yet safe to use.” By the 1950s, “(advertisements) no longer told the consumer which chemicals were in the products; the consumer was simply assured that the weed killer was easy to use and effective.”