Integrated pest management, or IPM, is a process used to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. IPM can be used to manage all kinds of pests anywhere—in urban, agricultural, and wildland or natural areas. -University of California.
IPM focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage by managing the ecosystem
With IPM, you take actions to keep pests from becoming a problem, simply by caulking cracks or repairing gaps to keep insects or rodents from entering a building.
Rather than simply eliminating the pests you see now, using IPM means you’ll look at environmental factors that affect the pest and its ability to thrive. Armed with this information, we can cut conditions that are favorable for the pest development.
Monitoring means checking your field, landscape, or building—or other site—to identify which pests are present, how many there are, or what damage they’ve caused. Correctly identifying the pest is key to knowing whether a pest is likely to become a problem and determining the best management strategy.
After monitoring and considering information about the pest, its biology, and environmental factors, specific pest thresholds can be set; we can decide whether the pest can be tolerated or whether it is a problem that warrants control. If control is needed, this information also helps us to select the most effective management methods and the best time to use them.
The most effective, long-term way to manage pests is by using a combination of methods that work better together than separately. Approaches for managing pests are often grouped in the following categories.
- Biological control
The use of living organisms to control other living organisms. Most pests have natural enemies that control or suppress them effectively in some situations. Some natural enemies or beneficial predators are ladybugs, lacewing, stingless wasps, and nematodes.
- Cultural controls
Cultural controls are practices that reduce pest establishment, reproduction, dispersal, and survival. For example, changing irrigation practices can reduce pest problems, since too much water can increase available moisture leading to rodent and insect development. Restricting food consumption to certain areas or emptying trash cans in the afternoon instead of allowing cans to sit over night. Keep trash cans away from doorways.
- Mechanical and physical controls
Modifying a habitat, using mechanical traps to capture pests, or using barriers or other materials to exclude pests from an area. Examples of habitat modification include caulking, filling access holes in walls, sealing around electrical outlets, or tight-fitting trash can lids. Physical traps might include pheromone sticky traps for grain or clothes moths, snap traps for mice, or traps for flies.
- Chemical control
Chemical control is the use of pesticides. In IPM, pesticides are used only when needed and in combination with other approaches for more effective, long-term control. Also, pesticides are selected and applied in a way that minimizes their possible harm to people and the environment. With IPM you’ll use the most selective pesticide that will do the job and be the safest for other organisms and for air, soil, and water quality; use pesticides in a proper way and by the label. Examples of a pesticide application would include applying a dust pesticide into a wall void to control ants or using baits in a crack to control cockroaches.
Elements of IPM
These IPM principles and practices are combined to create IPM programs. While each situation is different, five major components are common to all IPM programs:
- Pest identification
- Monitoring and assessing pest numbers and damage
- Guidelines for when management action is needed
- Preventing pest problems
- Using a combination of biological, cultural, physical/mechanical and chemical management tools