INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT
Plants, insects, molds, mildew, rodents, bacteria, and other organisms are a natural part of the environment. They can benefit people in many ways. BUT, they can also be pests.
- Apartments and houses are often hosts to common pests such as cockroaches, fleas, termites, ants, mice, rats, mold, or mildew;
- Weeds, hornworms, aphids, and grubs can be a nuisance outdoors when they get into your lawn, flowers, yard, vegetable garden, or fruit or shade trees; and
- Pests can be a health hazard to you, your family, or your pets.
Whether used to control insects, rodents, weeds, microbes, or fungi, pesticides have important benefits. They help farmers provide an affordable and plentiful food supply. Pesticides are also used in other settings such as our homes, offices, and schools to control pests as common as the cockroach, termites, and mice. Integrated Pest Management, (IPM), is an approach to pest control that offers a means to reduce the risk from, and in some cases, the amount of, chemical pesticides needed. In many cases, there are steps that pesticide users can take BEFORE they have a pest problem to PREVENT the need for pesticides. When a pest problem, such as an insect infestation is identified, pesticide users often have a choice among differing solutions to their pest problems. These pest control strategies present different levels of risk to human health and the environment.
What is IPM?
Integrated Pest Management, (IPM), is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs are current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides. In contrast, organic food production applies many of the same concepts as IPM, but limits the use of pesticides to those that are produced from natural sources, as opposed to synthetic chemicals.
How do IPM programs work?
IPM is not a single pest control method, but, rather, a series of pest management evaluations, decisions, and controls. In practicing IPM, follow these four steps:
1. Set Action Thresholds – Before taking any pest control action, IPM first sets an action threshold, a point at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that pest control action must be taken. Sighting a single pest does not always mean that pest control is needed. The level at which pests either become a threat to human or pet health, yard and garden health, or a threat to the family economics is critical to guide pest control decisions.
2. Monitor and Identify Pests – Not all insects, weeds, and other living organisms require control. Many organisms are innocuous, and some are even beneficial. IPM programs work to monitor pests and identify them accurately, so that appropriate control decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds. This monitoring and identification removes the possibility that pesticides will be used when they are not really needed, or that the wrong kind of pesticide will be used.
3. Prevention – As a first line of pest control, IPM programs work to manage the lawn or indoor space to prevent pests from becoming a threat. Outside, this may mean using cultural methods, such asselecting pest-resistant varieties of plants and planting pest-free rootstock. These control methods can be very effective and cost-efficient, and presents little or no risk to the environment.
4. Control – Once monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is required, and preventative methods are no longer effective or available, IPM programs then evaluate the proper control method both for effectiveness and risk. Effective, less risky pest control methods are chose first, including highly targeting chemicals, such as pheromones to disrupt pest mating, or mechanical control, such as trapping or weeding. If further monitoring, identifications, and action thresholds indicate that less risky controls are not working, then additional pest control methods would be employed, such as targeted spraying of pesticides. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides is a last resort.