Integrated Pest Management (IPM):
A non-chemical approach to pest control
What is IPM?
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally friendly approach to pest management, that relies on a combination of pest control practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests, and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment.
The IPM approach can be applied to both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, such as the home, garden, and workplace. IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the sensible use of pesticides.
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How do IPM programs work?
IPM is not a single pest control method but, rather, a series of pest management evaluations, decisions and controls. In practicing IPM, those who are aware of the potential for pest infestation follow a four step approach:
1. Set Action Thresholds
Before taking any pest control action, IPM first sets an action threshold, a point at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that pest control action must be taken. Sighting a single pest does not always mean control is needed, and often cleaning and following preventative measures will resolve most potential infestations. The most effective method of gaging pest situations is through constant and consistent monitoring.
2. Monitor and Identify Pests
IPM programs work to monitor pests and identify them accurately, so that appropriate control decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds. This monitoring and identification removes the possibility that pesticides will be used when they are not really needed or that the wrong kind of pesticide will be used.
As a first line of pest control, IPM Programs work to manage the interior and exterior spaces to prevent pests from becoming a threat. These control methods (ie: keeping sanitation under control and construction up to date) can be very effective and cost-efficient and present little to no risk to people or the environment.
Once monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is required, and preventative methods are no longer effective or available, IPM programs then evaluate the proper control method both for effectiveness and risk. Effective, less risky pest controls are chosen first, including highly targeted chemicals, such as pheromones to disrupt pest mating, or mechanical control such as trapping. If further monitoring, identifications and action thresholds indicate that less risky controls are not working, then additional pest control methods would be employed, such as targeted spraying of pesticides. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides is a last resort.
IPM information sourced from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)