“Integrated Pest Management: What is it and What Does it Do?”
People need food, water, and shelter to live comfortably. However, our usual environments also provide food, water, and shelter for unwanted species such as pests.
Our natural instinct is to get rid of them so that we can continue living comfortably and pest-free. But we know some of these extermination methods can be harmful even to us. This is where IPM comes in.
What is IPM, Integrated Pest Management?
Integrated pest management (IPM) is not very easy to define. But to sum it up before we go into further detail, IPM is a way of dealing with pests responsibly. It takes many things into consideration, rather than just spraying an area with pesticide indiscriminately.
Let’s take a closer look at integrated pest management and what it entails.
Integrated pest management is a broad-based approach. It makes use of different methods to ensure the economic control of pests. It is also known as integrated pest control (IPC). IPC uses the information to determine the best course of action in terms of dealing with various pests.
It takes into account the various pest control methods as well as the life cycles of pests. Their interaction with the environment is also considered, among other factors.
IPM prioritizes the methods that provide the least possible hazard to the people in the selected environment. It looks for the most economical means to cut property damage as well as the health hazards presented by certain species like insects.
IPM is a process of balancing the risks between pests and pesticides to achieve the best long-term outcomes. It can involve a wide variety of strategies and management practices, all based on the data collected.
So basically, integrated pest management is more than just applying pesticides where they are needed. Rather, it means doing the right thing at the right time to affect the right targets. This will ultimately help in reducing the food, water, and shelter of the identified pests.
An American IPM system works under certain components in order to ensure that the pest population is below the economic injury level or EIL. These six basic components define IPM as a whole and how it functions: acceptable pest levels, preventive cultural practices, monitoring, mechanical controls, biological controls, and responsible use.
Acceptable pest levels means that IPM puts an emphasis on controlling the pest population rather than eradicating them entirely. Even pests have their function in the grand scheme of nature—also known as the food chain. Wiping out an entire pest population is extremely difficult, and can also be dangerous when not done correctly.
Preventitive Pest Practices
IPM also tries to avoid catering to the needs of the pest population. These techniques are called preventive cultural practices. This way, you can avoid having pests in the first place.
Monitoring involves regular observation so that pests can be identified. Pest behavior and reproductive cycles will be recorded so that the proper methods of control can be applied.
Mechanical & Biological Solutions
Mechanical controls and biological controls are for pest populations that have reached an unacceptable level. They include techniques like hand-picking, traps, baits, vacuuming, and introducing beneficial insects that eat target pests. These methods disrupt the breeding cycle.
If pesticides are needed, IPM dictates that they must only be used responsibly. They are only used in specific times in a pest’s life cycle, and only in areas that require its use.
Integrated pest management is all about the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques, so that the development of pest populations can be managed safely.