What is integrated pest management (IPM)?
Integrated Pest Management or IPM, is an approach to pest control that utilizes regular monitoring to determine if and when treatments are needed and employs physical, mechanical, cultural, biological and educational tactics to keep pest numbers low enough to prevent unacceptable damage or annoyance.

In IPM programs, treatments are not made according to a predetermined schedule. Instead they are made only when and where monitoring has indicated that the pest will cause unacceptable economic, medical or aesthetic damage. Treatments are chosen and timed to be most effective and least hazardous to non-target organisms and the general environment.

Components of an IPM program

  • Identification of pests and possible natural enemies.
  • A monitoring and record keeping system for regular sampling of pest and natural enemy populaion. Monitoring is an ongoing activity.
  • Determination of injury level, or that size of the pest population correlated with an injury suffucient to warrant treatment. In determining injury levels, the amount of aesthetic or economic damage that can be tolerated must be correlated with the population size of pests, natural enemies, time in the season, and/or life stage of the pest host.
  • An evaluation system to determine outcome of treatment actions.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM), is the blending of all effective, economical, and environmentally sound pest control methods into a single but flexible approach to manage pest populations within acceptable limits. Those who practice IPM take the first step deciding on the nature and the source of the pest problem. They then rely on a range of preventive and treatment strategies which can be cultural, physical, mechanical, or biological. Only the least-toxic chemical pesticides should be used, as a last resort.

An IPM Program Contains the Following Key Components:

Identify the pest and/or problem.

Monitoring and Record Keeping.
Observe the plants or site, fix potential pest problems at regular intervals. Keep records of what is seen, decisions made, actions taken and results.

Establish Tolerance Levels.
Determine when the pest problem is likely to become serious enough to require some action.

Least Toxic Treatments.
To an IPM progran, the object of treatment is to suppress pest populations below their injury level, but not to eradicate them. Select control strategies that are easy to carry out effectively, long-lasting, and least disruptive to the environment.

Inspect after treatment actions has been taken. Write down what you learn. Has the treatment been effective? How can the whole process be improved to achieve the overall objectives of this program?

Team Strategies

Cultural controls.
Many cultural practices can reduce pests by making their environments less favorable. Here are few examples:

  • Sanitation is one of the most important steps in pest management. Every pest found in the home, garden or office represents a breakdown of sanitation procedures. Proper disposal of garbage, cleaning up up clutter in offices and basements, and removing weeds in gardens all contribute to removing food and shelter for pests.
  • In the garden, crop rotation replaces a crop that is susceptible to a serious pest with another crop that is not susceptible, on a rotating basis.

Physical Controls.
Several practices physically keep insect pests from places where they’re not wanted.

  • Barriers, such as window screens will help exclude health and nuisance pests like flies mosqitoes, and aphids from buildings and greenhouses.
  • Various traps can be used to catch a variety of pests, including cockroaches, ants and mice.

Mechanical Controls.
Mechanical controls are direct measures that either kill the pest or make the environment unsuitable for their entry, dispersal, or survival.

  • Cultivation or tillage exposes many soil insects to drying out or being eaten by birds and predatory insects.
  • Hand-picking can be used to get rid of snails and slugs, caterpillars and tomato hornworms.
  • A strong spray of water will dislodge aphids and mites from places in the greenhouse and garden, and from houseplants.

Biological Controls.
Virtually all species, including all types of pests, have natural enemies. The most comon ones are predators and parasites.

  • Predators, such as ladybugs and lacewings, feed on aphids, caterpillars and beetle larvae.
  • Parasites, such as mini-wasps and flies are important in the fight against aphids, scale insects, and whiteflies.

Chemical Controls.

Only the least toxic chemicals should be used for controlling pests. If the are used, be sure to read the instructions carefully and wear appropriate protective equipment and clothing.

  • Chemical pesticides should only be used when less dangerous methods and techniques have failed to manage the pest.
  • Chemical pesticides should be used for spot treatments rather than for broadcast applications (Spot treating means treating only the specific problem plants, rather than broadcasting chemicals over a large area).
  • Choose chemical pesticides that are selective and apply them only when the pest is present and at a susceptible stage.

The Benefits of IPM

IPM protects the Environment.
IPM sharply reduces pesticide use. This helps alleviate a threat to wildlife and beneficial organisms. IPM improves water quality and avoids soil contamination and keeps hazardous chemicals not of the food chain.

IPM Protects the Health of Humans and Other Creatures.
Since IPM conrols plant-eating insects and weeds with little or no pesticide, beneficial insects are protected. This promotes healthier plants without endangering the safety of children and pets. The chance of harm to people when they are applying pesticides is also greatly reduced.