Insects are a normal part of landscapes around the world, with an estimated 164,000 insect species, including the approximate number of species not yet name by scientists, found in the United States alone. Insects often get a bad rap and it is not uncommon for individuals to automatically consider any insects found within their landscapes to be an undesirable annoyance, or pest. However, the truth of the matter is not all insects found within our landscapes are pests. Insect pests are classified as insects, or bugs that are a nuisance, spreading diseases and causing the destruction of plant life and property. Whereas, insects that are not deemed pests, are considered to be beneficial insects. According to the University of Florida IFAS Extension, of the millions of estimated insect species around the globe, “less than 1% of these actually feed on plants in a harmful way”. Meaning there are more good bugs, or beneficial insects, than there are insect pests.
Your landscape is an integral part of your surrounding community and ecosystem; and it is continually evolving as it is impacted by the varying elements throughout your landscape, and those surrounding it. There is a wide array of insect pests that can travel from one landscape to the next, infesting our trees and yard. These insect pest infestations lead to a breakdown of the vegetation within our landscapes and leave them susceptible to diseases and further health concerns.
For most of us when we look at our landscape we see it in sections, a garden here and a tree or two there. So, while working in the yard we care for these sections individually, often without consideration for the impact they are having on one another. We often forget that insect pests can migrate through an entire yard; moving from the dying tree in your front yard to the fresh vegetable or flower garden out back and then onto the neighbor’s newly planted shrubs. This is were Integrated Pest Management (IPM), comes into the picture.
In our previous article, What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?, we discussed what Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is and the four controls used in IPM programs to treat and prevent pest issues within your landscape. These four controls are: biological, mechanical, cultural and chemical. Some of these controls are fairly self explanatory and easily understood. For example, pulling weeds by hand would be considered a cultural control. However, one control that is not as widely understood (and requires a special understanding or background before implementation) is biological control. So, today I would like to discuss in greater detail what a biological control is and how it may be used in your Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program.
What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a preventative and treatment process, that utilizes an environmentally friendly approach to resolve pest issues within the environment. IPM programs focus on the use of holistic treatment and preventative options, so as to minimize the impact, exposure, and risks to people and the surrounding environment.