Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Guide
What is Integrated Pest Management?
Integrated pest management (IPM) is a broad-based approach to pest control that is both eco-friendly and economical. Integrated pest management involves the consideration of available pest control techniques and use of the most appropriate measures to prevent or reduce the existence or spread of pests. IPM focuses more on pest prevention and less on the use of pesticides whereas traditional pest control methods involve routine pesticide applications. In addition to using pesticides only as and when required, IPM also focuses on the use of natural pest control mechanisms. IPM is the most environmentally sensitive and effective approach. It offers safer pest control and the least possible disruption to ecosystems.
IPM is used in preventive conservation, agriculture, forestry, and human habitats for general pest control purposes. In fact, IPM is the most effective approach when it comes to structural, turf, and ornamental pest management.
How does IPM work?
Unlike conventional pest control methods, IPM aims to drastically reduce, if not eliminate, the use of pesticides and minimize the risks of exposure to toxic products. The risk of pesticide exposure outweighs the benefits of using chemical pest control techniques, particularly when non-chemical methods can provide better if not the same results as chemical interventions. Well-defined IPM programs work by limiting the use of pesticides and other toxic interventions on the one hand, and taking advantage of recommendable pest management strategies like the judicious use of pesticides on the other.
IPM integrates identification, monitoring, prevention, and appropriate pest control practices to help prevent pest infestations and damage. Since IPM aims to provide long-term pest management solutions, it often involves multiple control methods determined by the information obtained from site inspections and monitoring.
Successful IPM implementation programs
IPM programs are a combination of the IPM principles and practices mentioned above, and although situations might be different, every IPM approach is designed around the following components:
This means checking buildings, landscapes, or other sites to identify the problematic pests, type and extent of damage, distribution, and population size. Aside from helping you reduce the unnecessary and potentially harmful use of pesticides, correct pest identification plays a major role in determining the most optimal intervention points and the best preventive measures. Additionally, knowledge of the pest and its life cycle makes it easier to decide whether management is needed and allows you to keep your pest control efforts from eliminating beneficial organisms. On the other hand, mistaken pest identification can lead to the implementation of ineffective measures.
Preventative practices are the first and best line of defence. As such, IPM usually involves actions and techniques that can help keep pests from becoming an issue. IPM focuses on the following preventive actions:
- Installation of barriers
- Reduction of clutter
- Maintenance of clean dining and food storage areas
- Structural weatherization and sealing of entry points
- Removal of standing water
- Removal of trash and overgrown vegetation
- Educating building occupants on integrated pest management
Another effective measure is the removal of pest-attracting conditions like food, water, and shelter. Prevention techniques can also include the use of biological processes and materials like pest resistant crop varieties, modified cultural practices like crop sanitation, and habitat manipulation strategies like the addition of beneficial fungi and bacteria.
Unlike traditional pest control techniques that eliminate visible pests only, the IPM process involves looking at environmental factors that can impact the targeted organism and its ability to thrive. With this knowledge, you can create the most unfavorable of conditions for the problematic pest. Even though preventive techniques can vary depending on the situation, prevention is and must remain the primary means of pest management in an IPM program.
Set action thresholds:
Integrated pest management holds that it is almost impossible to eradicate entire pest populations whereas the attempt might be both expensive and unsafe. As such, IPM focuses on control more than eradication. Once the pest identification process is complete, IPM programs work to determine acceptable pest levels known as action thresholds and establish applicable methods of control in case the levels are crossed. An action threshold is a point at which pest populations become health hazards, nuisances, or economic threats, causing the need for remedial action. Ideally, this is the point when the benefits of pest control by far exceed the cost.
Action thresholds are usually pest and site specific dependent. For instance, one fly might be acceptable in a pet kennel but not in a hospital’s operating room. Killing off almost all pests might increase the rate at which the survivors will develop resistance to the type of control used. Those that have resistance can then provide the future population’s genetic basis. Allowing a reasonable number of non-resistant specimens to exist dilutes the prevalence of resistant genes. Similarly, using one group of pest control methods over and over might lead to pest populations that are resistant to that particular class of controls. However, alternating from one class to another keeps such problems from occurring. Setting an action threshold is extremely important since it will help you make the best pest control decisions. A well-defined threshold should assist in determining the scope, size, and intensity of an integrated pest management strategy.
Monitoring involves regular observation and is broken into site inspections and record-keeping. Observation is crucial because it allows you to understand pest behaviors and reproductive cycles better.
Observation can involve regularly conducted visual inspections as well as insect and spore traps to help determine and keep track of the level and type of infestation.
Record-keeping is essential because it allows referencing, which you may find especially useful in determining the most likely time for a specific pest outbreak. The physical development of cold-blooded organisms like insects depends on surrounding temperatures. You can, therefore, determine outbreak patterns and trends if you have the necessary data.
When monitoring for pests, you should keep records detailing the pest’s identification, distribution, population, monitoring techniques used, monitored sites, inspection schedules, findings, actions taken, and recommendations.
Thought monitoring techniques can vary depending on the pest, effective IPM strategies routinely monitor:
- Vulnerable areas
- Pest populations
- Efficacy of the prevention and management techniques used
Monitoring, comes after the completion of preventive actions and establishment of action thresholds, and has to begin before the pests’ level of activity becomes significant. Having adequate information about the pest’s behavioral, biological, and environmental patterns makes it easier to decide whether the problem warrants pest management. If control is necessary, this information allows you to choose the most effective pest management techniques and application times. As such, it’s best to update IPM plans based on monitoring results.
In IPM, control is the penultimate step. Pest control measures become necessary when pest population levels cross an action threshold. Reducing pest populations to acceptable levels remains the main objective. As such, IPM programs employ a variety of the most effective and least harmful approaches to human health and the environment, categorized as biological, cultural, mechanical, and chemical pest control strategies.
If pest population levels exceed action thresholds, use pesticides with mild toxicity levels. This is done to minimize exposure to non-target organisms and humans. Adopted treatments should not eliminate anything other than the targeted specimen. Additionally, both the chosen pest control measures and the mode of application should minimize risks to human health, non-targeted organisms, and the environment.
Assessment is the last step. This establishes the success of an IPM program. As such, evaluation needs to be a continuous process. Assessing and documenting the entire IPM process is critical in evaluating the success of the pest control measures taken and should include:
- Evidence showing you considered and implemented non-chemical pest control techniques.
- Searchable and organized on-site records of all pest control services, including pesticide application.
- Recommendations for future preventive measures.
Types of pest control methods
IPM plans employ a combination of long-term pest management approaches. Combining techniques that provide much better results when used together than they do when used separately is the most effective pest control strategy. Pest management strategies fall into these four categories:
In simple terms, biological control involves the use of natural enemies to manage pest populations. Nematodes, weeds, invertebrates, vertebrates, and plant pathogens have a wide variety of natural enemies, including predators, competitors parasites, and pathogens. In this approach, the main idea is to promote organisms that eat or parasitize the target pests. Biological insecticides obtained from naturally occurring microorganisms like entomopathogenic fungi and nematodes fall into this category as well. Additionally, other biology-based techniques are still under evaluation.
Advantages of biological processes includes lower cost and acceptable environmental impact.
Cultural control practices serve to minimize the establishment, reproduction, survival, and dispersal of pests. Choose plant varieties for the specific environment. For instance, removing diseased plants and cleaning the pruning shears keeps infections from spreading. Water increases the occurrence of weeds and root disease. Altering irrigation practices helps to reduce pest problems. Adding beneficial fungi and bacteria to crops that are vulnerable to root diseases could eliminate the need for fungicides.
When pest populations reach unacceptable levels, mechanical and physical methods of control are often the first options. These pest control techniques work by keeping the pests out, making the environment unsuitable, or killing the pests directly. Mechanical and physical controls can include tillage and mulching to manage weeds and disrupt breeding. Use barriers to keep the pests out, traps, simple hand-picking, vacuuming, and steam sterilization of the soil.
As a form of intervention, chemical control involves the use of pesticides. Combining pesticides with other pest management methods allows for more effective, long-term control. In IPM, the mode of selecting and applying pesticides reduces the danger to human beings, non-target organisms, and the environment. IPM necessitates the use of a highly selective pesticide,. One that’s not only the most effective option but also the safest for every other organism. IPM recommends using pesticides in bait stations instead of sprays or spot-spraying.
The process of integrated pest management (IPM)
IPM involves the selection and application of pest control practices that provide favorable consequences. Integrated pest management (IPM) applies to almost all of the pest management situations related to human health and agriculture. The IPM process is much the same as the programs listed earlier. If you would to implement an IPM solution or have an questions visit Pro Pest Control Brisbane to speak with a professional and get free advice.
To safeguard the environment, implement sustainable pest control programs. Integrated pest management creates a safer and healthier environment by controlling pests and reducing the chances of exposure to both pests and pesticides. IPM programs use practical strategies to reduce pest-attracting conditions like food, water, and shelter. Apart from being sensible and economical, IPM focuses on prevention, which makes this programs the most economically advantageous and sustainable approach to pest control.