Integrated Pest Management
What is Integrated Pest Managment?
Integrated pest management (IPM) is a strategy that focuses on the prevention and control of pest problems through a combination of techniques to help reduce dependence on pesticides, minimize the amounts of pesticide required for nuisance control, and use the least-toxic product that provides effective control.
A central guiding principle of IPM, with few exceptions, is that pesticides should be used to control nuisance levels, not as a method of prevention. Pesticide use as a method of prevention can lead to excessive and unnecessary use. Following this principle helps to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment.
Did you Know?
Less than 3% of the insects you encounter in the garden are pests. The vast majority of insects in your yard are not harmful – they’re either beneficial or neutral. In the interest of keeping good bugs alive, take a targeted, selective approach to dealing with the insects that are pests.
Pesticides and Water Quality
Commonly used pesticides have been detected in urban creeks and waterways throughout California and around the country. Pesticides can cause problems for our health and the environment even when applied according to label directions. Very small amounts of pesticides can be lethal to marine life, birds, and other life forms. In some locations, water contaminated with pesticides can migrate from creeks and surface waters into drinking water wells.
These pesticides can also end up polluting our creeks and waterways, damaging these already compromised wildlife habitats. Only pesticides that are licensed for direct application to water are permissible for surface water contact, and event these must be used prudently. More information on pesticides can be found at the University of California IPM Program webpage.
The Best Way to Prevent Pests is Through a Combination of the Following Controls:
- Biological Control: Almost everything in nature has something that can bring it down. Whether it’s a natural predator, parasite, pathogen, or competitor, effective pest control can be as easy as identifying the pest damaging your garden and introducing a natural enemy like ladybugs. Check out this list of predators and parasites that kill pests naturally.
- Cultural Control: Pests tend to thrive in specific environments and conditions. If you’re experiencing a persistent pest problem, it might be time to consider what environmental condition you might be creating that supports their continued survival. For example, changing irrigation practices can reduce pest problems, since too much water can increase root disease and weeds.
- Mechanical & Physical Controls: These controls kill a pest directly, block pests out, or make the environment unsuitable for infestation. Traps for rodents are examples of mechanical control. Physical controls include mulches for weed management, steam sterilization of the soil for disease management, or barriers such as screens to keep birds or insects out.
- Chemical Control: When taking a responsible approach to pest management, pesticides should only be used as a last resort and always in combination with the controls listed above. It’s generally a good idea to use pesticides in bait stations rather than sprays, and to spot-spray instead of spraying an entire yard or area. Pesticides should be selected and applied in a way that minimizes their possible harm to people, non-target organisms, and the environment. NEVER use pesticides or herbicides when there is rain in the 48-hour forecast and ALWAYS avoid application in windy conditions.