Integrated pest management, or IPM, is a process you can use to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. IPM can be used to manage all kinds of pests anywhere—in urban, agricultural, and wildland or natural areas.
IPM is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment.
What is a pest?
Pests are organisms that damage or interfere with desirable plants in our fields and orchards, landscapes, or wildlands, or damage homes or other structures. Pests also include organisms that impact human or animal health. Pests may transmit disease or may be just a nuisance. A pest can be a plant (weed), vertebrate (bird, rodent, or other mammal), invertebrate (insect, tick, mite, or snail), nematode, pathogen (bacteria, virus, or fungus) that causes disease, or other unwanted organism that may harm water quality, animal life, or other parts of the ecosystem.
With IPM, you take actions to keep pests from becoming a problem, such as by growing a healthy crop that can withstand pest attacks, using disease-resistant plants, or caulking cracks to keep insects or rodents from entering a building.
Rather than simply eliminating the pests you see right now, using IPM means you'll look at environmental factors that affect the pest and its ability to thrive. Armed with this information, you can create conditions that are unfavorable for the pest.
Monitoring means checking your field, landscape, forest, or building—or other site—to identify which pests are present, how many there are, or what damage they've caused. Correctly identifying the pest is key to knowing whether a pest is likely to become a problem and determining the best management strategy.
After monitoring and considering information about the pest, its biology, and environmental factors, you can decide whether the pest can be tolerated or whether it is a problem that warrants control. If control is needed, this information also helps you select the most effective management methods and the best time to use them.
The most effective, long-term way to manage pests is by using a combination of methods that work better together than separately. Approaches for managing pests are often grouped in the following categories.
These IPM principles and practices are combined to create IPM programs. While each situation is different, six major components are common to all IPM programs: