Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest control that relies on a lot of common sense practices. IPM utilizes all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the careful and limited use of pesticides. Similarly, organic principles apply many of the same concepts as IPM, yet they limit the use of any pesticides to those that are produced from natural sources.
IPM is based on a four tiered system of evaluations, decisions and controls. The four steps include:
Set Action Thresholds
Step back and decide for your family, what level of pests warrants intervention? Your action threshold is a point at which the pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that action must be taken. Sighting a single grub or weed does not always mean control is needed. Ask yourself what an acceptable presence of certain pests should be. And remember, property without insects, birds, squirrels or microorganisms is a property out of balance.
Monitor and Identify Pests
A successful IPM program monitors for the presence of pests and identifies them correctly, so appropriate measures can be taken. When a homeowner is fully aware of what the problem is, it is easier to come up with a plan of action and work towards a solution. This monitoring and identification also eliminates the possibility of using pesticides unnecessarily or the wrong kind of pesticides. This is especially important because pesticide misuse by homeowners adds up to a significant amount of environmental damage.
As a first line of pest control, IPM programs work to manage the lawn to prevent pests from becoming a threat. In addition to providing the best possible conditions for turf growth a homeowner can actually choose pest resistant varieties of grass and should be aware of potential environments in the immediate area which may provide a habitat for pests or encourage pest activity. Available sunlight, air circulation, plant nutrition, and soil compaction are all factors that can be altered to alleviate pest populations, rather than introducing chemicals.
You have pests. So now what? If prevention alone isn't working, it's time for some more homeowner intervention. Homeowners can use mechanical, biological and chemical controls either independently or in conjunction.
- Mechanical would be your first choice and can include simple hand picking, erecting insect barriers, using traps, vacuuming, and tillage to disrupt breeding.
- Natural biological processes and materials can provide control, with minimal environmental impact and often at low cost. This could include introducing beneficial insects to target pests or the use of biological insecticides which are derived from naturally occurring microorganisms.
- Chemical controls are the synthetic pesticides and are generally used only as required and often only at specific times in a pest's life cycle.
Newer pesticides are often derived from plants or naturally occurring substances and new ecological techniques are always emerging as we strive to be more mindful of our impact on the environment.