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.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Definition
Over the years there have been many definitions for IPM and as the years go on, the definition has continued to evolve. I am going to share what is perhaps my favorite definition of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). It most closely reflects my use of IPM and is broken down in a manner that is more easily understood:
“Integrated pest management (IPM) is a pest management strategy that focuses on long-term prevention or suppression of pest problems with minimum impact on human health, the environment, and non-target organisms. Preferred pest management techniques include encouraging naturally occurring biological control, using alternate plant species or varieties that resist pests, selecting pesticides with lower toxicity to humans or non-target organisms; adoption of cultivating pruning, fertilizing, or irrigation practices that reduce pest problems; or changing the habitat to make it incompatible with pest development. Broad spectrum pesticides are used as a last resort when careful monitoring indicates they are needed according to pre-established guidelines.”
M.L. Flint, S. Daar and R. Molinar. 1991. Establishing integrated pest management policies and programs: a guide for public agencies. Univ. Calif. IPM Pub. 12. 9 pp.
For additional IPM definitions read the Integrated Plant Protection Centers, Compendium of IPM Definitions (CID)
How does Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Work?
Early detection, monitoring, and accurate identification of pests…
IPM focuses mainly on prevention of future pest issues by assessing current risk factors. In order, to efficiently assess possible risks, we need early detection and monitoring. This means that we need to determine what pests are currently present in your landscape, the number of pests and what damage has already transpired. Determining whether or not a pest is likely to become a problem and developing an effective management strategy are dependent on accurately identifying the pest. Once a pest has been identified and monitoring has been completed, we then take into consideration the pest itself, as well as environmental factors to determine whether or not the pest can be tolerated, or if there is need for control.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) focuses on long-term prevention of pest and managing environmental damages…
IPM programs focus on more than just simply eliminating current pests, but rather taking into consideration the environmental factors within the landscape that are affecting the pest and its ability to thrive. Using a combination of controls, or methods, we can create conditions that are unfavorable for the pest rendering a long-term solution and preventing re-infestation. Pest management controls are grouped into four main categories:
A Biological control is a method that relies on the use of natural mechanisms, often with the support of an active human management role to control pests and their damage. What do I mean by natural mechanisms? I mean the use of pests’ natural enemies, predators, pathogens, parasites, and competitors. These natural enemies may be released on the property, or if attainable, attracted to the landscape. For example, specific types of flowers or plants, may be utilized to attract beneficial insects to pest-prone, or pest infested sites throughout the landscape.
Mechanical, or physical, controls are methods used to physically control a pest; perhaps by killing the pest directly, systematically blocking the pest from an area using screens or barriers, or creating an unfavorable living condition such as using mulch to control weeds.
A Cultural control is the practice of modifying the growing environment to reduce pest prevalence and mitigate the reproduction, spread, and survival of the unwanted pests. Some examples of cultural control in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) might include modifying the soils pH levels or altering irrigation procedures.
A Chemical control is the use of pesticides, to eliminate unwanted pests. However, in IPM pesticides are used only as needed and are applied sparingly to minimize contamination and possible harm to humans, water sources, the surrounding landscape or environment and even other organisms (i.e. insects or pests) that are not the target. In addition, chemical controls are used in combination with one, or more, of the above mentioned methods to create a more effective and long-term result.