Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense 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.
IPM is not a single pest control method but, instead, a series of evaluations, and decisions for the control of your pest problems:
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. The level at which pests will become an economic threat is critical to guiding future pest control decisions.
2. Monitor and Identify Pests
Not all insects, weeds, and other living organisms require control. Many organisms are innocuous, and some are even beneficial. IPM programs work to monitor for pests and identify them accurately, so those appropriate control decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds. This monitoring and identification remove the possibility that pesticides will be used when they are not really needed or that the wrong kind of pesticide will be used.
As the first line of pest control, IPM programs work to manage the crop, lawn, or indoor space to prevent pests from becoming a threat. This may mean using cultural methods in an agricultural crop, such as rotating between different crops, selecting pest-resistant varieties, and planting pest-free rootstock. These control methods can be very effective and cost-efficient and present little to no risk to people or the environment. Proper irrigation methods and time of watering, and sanitizing tools between pruning of affected trees and plants are examples of preventative techniques.
Once monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is required, and preventive methods are no longer effective or available, IPM programs evaluate the proper control method 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 or weeding. 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.
Correct identification of insects and the damage they may cause to the host plant is the key to effective pest control. Identification starts with the three main feeding methods that damage trees and shrubs.