Integrated pest management
What is integrated pest management?
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a holistic approach to pest control that uses a combination of cultural, mechanical, biological, sanitary, and chemical controls. The goal of IPM is to manage pests to an acceptable level with as little impact to the environment as possible.
Why should I use integrated pest management?
Because IPM uses chemical controls only as a last resort, and even then uses the least toxic forms of chemicals, there is minimal impact on water quality. IPM is a good alternative to simply applying pesticides, which contaminate stormwater runoff and directly impact the health of aquatic organisms. The greatest source of pesticides to urban streams is home applications of insecticides and herbicides in the lawn and garden. Pesticides in stormwater runoff can also affect human health by contaminating drinking water supplies.
How does integrated pest management work?
The basic principle of IPM is the acceptance of a certain number of pests and a certain level of damage to your plants. Preventative measures such as mechanical, cultural, biological, and sanitary controls are used to keep pest levels below a certain critical level. Once the number of pests reaches a certain threshold, a rescue treatment may be needed which can include chemical controls. There are different thresholds for different pests, and these may also vary for different plants. Listed below are specific eco-friendly actions for controlling pests.
Removal of overripe produce and diseased plants: This prevents the diseases from spreading to healthy plants.
Chemical controls should be used only as a last resort, and then only in the least toxic forms. Less toxic chemical controls include soaps and horticultural oils, inorganic pesticides such as lime sulfur and copper, botanical pesticides, and microbial pesticides.
Because thresholds vary with the pest and type of plant, each individual garden may require a different IPM approach. Contact your local lawn and garden center or extension agent for more information.
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