A Guide to the Six Principles of Integrated Pest Management

As a broad-based technique, integrated pest management (IPM) is probably the most eco-friendly and economical approach to pest control. It involves the consideration of every available pest management techniques and application of the most appropriate to minimize if not prevent the dispersal or existence of pests. While traditional pest control methods put emphasis on pest extermination and routine pesticide applications, IPM focuses more on control and the use of natural pest management mechanisms. IPM aims to minimize, if not eliminate, the exposure to toxic pesticide substances. To help you understand what IPM involves, here’s a look at the six components the approach is designed around.

1. Pest identification
Rats, mice, ants, wasps, and cockroaches don't usually present the same problems. Identifying the type of pest, population size, extent of damage, and distribution is, therefore, important. Proper pest identification allows your pest exterminator to determine best intervention points and the most suitable mode of treatment, both of which help prevent the elimination of non-target or beneficial organisms. Additionally, ineffective measures are more likely without proper pest identification.

2. Prevention
Preventative measures are without a doubt the best line of defense. These actions help keep pest populations and distributions in check. IPM adopts the following measures:
• The sealing of entry points and weatherization of structures
• A reduction of clutter
• Proper maintenance of food storage areas
• Installation of barriers
• The removal of overgrown vegetation, standing water, trash and other pest-attracting conditions.

Unlike traditional pest management techniques, IPM programs take environmental factors into consideration, particularly those capable of impacting the target organism’s ability to thrive. In IPM programs, prevention takes center stage.

3. Action thresholds
Aside from the fact that the attempt might prove expensive and unsafe, we still cannot eradicate entire pest populations. IPM programs involve the determination of acceptable pest population levels. This is basically the point where pests are considered a nuisance, health hazard, or economic threat. The need for remedial action arises as soon as an action threshold is crossed, which is often when the benefit of pest management exceeds the cost. Action thresholds are, however, pest and site dependent. While several flies might be acceptable in a slaughterhouse, one might not be acceptable in a surgical theatre.

4. Monitoring
This involves continual observation, site inspections and record-keeping. Monitoring educates your pest exterminator about the pests' reproductive cycles and behaviors. In addition to visual inspections, tracking the level of pest infestation often involves the use of insect and spore traps.

Record-keeping makes it possible for the pest exterminator to determine potential outbreak times. As such, monitoring records must include the pest’s identity, distribution, population size, sites monitored, monitoring schedules and techniques, findings, actions taken, and future recommendations. Successful IPM strategies usually focus on:
• Pest populations
• Vulnerability
• Efficacy of the techniques used

5. Control
Pest control actions become necessary when the action threshold is crossed. Trying to eliminate the pests completely often increase the rate at which they develop resistance to the technique employed. On the other hand, allowing the existence of some non-resistant specimens is known to dilute the prevalence of resistant genes.

Since IPM aims to reduce pest population sizes to acceptable levels, it combines several of the least harmful yet most effective approaches. The control techniques adopted are categorized as chemical, biological, cultural, and mechanical.

Under IPM, chemical pesticides can only be used as a last resort. To minimize the likelihood of exposing human beings and other non-target organisms, only the least toxic pesticides are chosen.

6. Assessment
This is the final step and it helps establish the effectiveness of an IPM program, which is why it must be continuous. Proper and detailed documentation is critical to evaluating the program’s success and should include:
• Details showing non-chemical pest control strategies were considered and implemented.
• Searchable, organized records of every pest management effort
• Future recommendations

For additional insights, please visit Reliable Pest Control.