Integrated Pest Management
(IPM) first became known in the 1970s, when scientists observed that the chemical pesticides used extensively to eradicate plant pest epidemics were becoming less effective. They noticed that, despite the increased use of preventative insecticide sprays, insect damage to selected crops was getting more and more severe.
It turned out that some pests had developed a certain level of resistance to different pesticides, and new formulas had to be developed to provide an alternative to older chemicals that were no longer effective.
But alternating pesticides could only do so much to stop the growing pest invasion – it was time for a new method, one that would control pests by combining biological, physical, and chemical tools while maintaining a healthy environment. This approach to pest management became known as IPM and has proven a track record
of significantly increasing crop protection with minimum risk to humans and the environment.
The Benefits of an IPM Approach
which presents several problems, including: tremendous economic and energy costs; disruption of natural control; disastrous effects on pollinators; user and consumer risks; environmental pollution and effects on wildlife. Other key benefits of Integrated Pest Management are, as outlined by the USDA
- For farmers:
- Reduces economic risks by implementing carefully targeted pest management methods
- By also observing medium- and long-term challenges, it prevents future pest outbreaks
- Reduces health hazards (both acute and chronic)
- For the environment:
- Reduces the potential for air and water contamination
- Protects non-target species by decreasing impact of pest management activities
- Reduces the environmental risk associated with extensive pesticide use by encouraging the adoption of eco-friendly and sustainable pest management alternatives
- For the general population:
- Ensures safe pest management through improved pest control
- Alleviates concerns about pest and pesticide-related practices in public spaces such as schools and recreational facilities
- Maintains cost-effectiveness of pest management programs on residential properties
Steps to Effective IPM Implementation
To be able to control all types of insect damage (direct, indirect, vector diseases, and contamination), an effective IPM program should contain the following basic steps:
1. Inspection and Monitoring
: All areas of the building should be thoroughly inspected for pest activity. Even if no pest activity is detected, monitoring should still be carried out, especially in areas where pests may easily find food, water, and shelter. Depending on the type of pests and stages that are causing the damage, pest control professionals can choose between direct (making visual assessment of the damage) or indirect (pheromone traps
, light traps) monitoring methods.
2. Correct Pest Identification
: Learning what pests are present
and determining the size of the infestation is essential to choosing treatments that will work best and target only selected species. Aside from identifying invaders, it's important to gather sufficient information about their biology and the potential risks they pose. Additional information that can be useful for both commercial and residential infestations includes the time when pests inflict most injury and the stages that will be most vulnerable to treatment. Residential clients, together with their pest management professional, should set action thresholds
, indicating the maximum pest population that can be tolerated without posing any risks to people and the environment, and define a high, medium, and low level of infestation.
3. Taking Action
: The first line of defense in IPM is sanitation and habitat modification. To eliminate existing infestations and prevent future ones, your PMP should take the following measures:
limit access to food, water, and shelter
eliminate harmful behaviors (i.e., leaving garbage in unsecured cans, leaving dishes in the sink overnight)
deny access to pests on the property by sealing all entry points
use traps and mechanical devices, as well as low-risk registered chemical products, to eliminate pests
*Remember that proper time and placement are essential for effective chemical control.
: After implementing all the selected management options, it's now time to follow-up and assess pest control actions to determine the effectiveness of your IPM program and the areas that need improvement. The objective of this step is to determine:
- If the choice of management option was the right one
- If the management option was implemented on time and according to recommendations
- What changes to the management strategy can be made to improve control if the same pest problem would re-occur
Because an IPM approach promotes bio-based pest management alternatives to toxic chemicals that harm people, animals, and the environment, it can be used in almost any facility that deals with pest infestations. Farmers can use IPM to combat pesticide resistance and keep costs low, public institutions can minimize occupants' exposure to harmful chemicals, and homeowners can resort to low-risk solutions to deal with existing and potential pest problems. Contact your local pest control professional
to learn more about the benefits of a flexible and dynamic IPM approach to your existing pest problems.
About the Author
Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.