What Is Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management, also referred to as IPM, uses all means available to keep pests from becoming a problem in a given situation. Using biological, cultural, mechanical, physical, and chemical control methods, it often depends on chemical control as a last resort.

While these methods are most often referred to and used for agricultural and farming, they apply to all areas of pest control including residential homes and businesses. See Integrated Pest Management For Homes for some good guidelines, tips, and ideas on how these methods can be applied in homes and businesses outside the agricultural realm.

 Rather than simply spraying a pesticide to eliminate an insect infestation, rodent or bird issue, or even a weed problem, IPM takes the approach of creating environmental conditions that are unfavorable for the pest to survive and thrive. For example, after inspection and evaluation of a home insect infestation, we can often create conditions that are simply unfavorable for the bug. While we may most often apply some type of chemical control, that in itself doesn't keep the bugs from wanting to return.

Using a cockroach infestation as an example and from what I've learned from treating cockroach infestations here in the Carlsbad and Southeast New Mexico area, simply spraying insecticide isn't usually enough to create any long term results. Spraying may give a quick knockdown and temporary relief but it doesn't eliminate the reasons the bugs set up home in the first place. A good program will usually include an IPM system of eliminating food and water source, creating exclusion, using growth regulators to keep them from reproducing, tasty baits, and non-repellant pesticide.

A common method of biological control that many homeowners and gardeners are familiar with is the use of Lady Bugs to eliminate Aphids and other harmful insects from Rose Bushes and other desirable plants in the home garden. This is just one example but there are many.

Methods Of IPM

The main methods of Integrated Pest Management can be described as follows -

  • - Biological Control - Using natural enemies, parasites, or enemies of a pest to either compete with it or kill it in order to control it.
  • - Cultural Control - Eliminating food or water sources or even favorable living conditions.
  • - Mechanical Or Physical - Traps or exclusion for pests and mulching for weeds are good examples.
  • - Chemical Control - The use of pesticides

Creating An IPM Program

There are certain principles that are followed to create a good Integrated Pest Management program.

  1. Identify the pest
  2. Monitor the number of pests and their damage
  3. Determine when and if action is necessary
  4. Prevention methods
  5. A combination of the 4 methods outlined above