Pest Control Using Four Principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Many consumers are now turning to environmentally friendly household products and organic gardening, and are also looking for ways to control household and garden pests naturally. The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques employed by the agricultural industry also focus on reducing the need for toxic chemicals. The foundation of IPM can also be the foundation of any home or garden’s pest management system.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a technique used in agriculture to grow healthier and more productive crops while reducing the use of highly toxic pesticides. As part of a holistic approach to farming, IPM uses four basic principles to guide the farmer’s pest management system. These four principles of IPM can also be used in the home and garden to reduce the use of toxic pesticides.

Pest Exclusion
Taking steps to exclude and prevent pests is the starting point of any IPM program. In the home, you want to fill cracks around doors, windows, and cabinets with caulking to prevent insects from entering the home. Also, walk around the perimeter of your house and look for places that insects could obviously use to gain access to the inside of your home. In the garden, keep your garden plants and grass healthy by providing just the right amount of water and fertilizer they need. Healthy plants can better survive if a few pests show up. Also, water your garden and bushes using a drip system if possible. Many pests such as snails and slugs are attracted to moist dirt. The less water you waste, the fewer pests you’ll have. Farmers practicing IPM will also plant varieties of trees and other crops that resist pest infestations.

Keep It Clean
Pests come into a home or garden seeking food, water, and shelter. Don’t provide these and you will have fewer pests. Keep your home, in particular the kitchen, clean and free of crumbs and dirty dishes, and your home will not be as appealing to ants and cockroaches. In the garden, keep your compost pile and leaf litter away from the garden. Pests are often attracted to decaying debris.

Monitor and Identify Pests
Even the best organic gardeners and housekeepers can still end up invaded by ants, aphids, and other unwanted insects. But how you deal with the pests you do see will depend on the species of the pest. Two or three ants in the kitchen are sure to lead to a colony tracking into your home for water or food. You should take immediate action when you see any ants inside your home. However, a few aphids found on your otherwise healthy roses may not need such swift attention or any action at all. Learn about the common pests in your region to know how to best react to that pest. Also, learn about the different species of insects in your region in general. Not every bug on your tomato plant is harmful. Many are beneficial to the garden.

Least Toxic Treatment
If a pest has been identified and action is needed, choose the least toxic treatment to target that specific pest. Spraying toxic chemicals inside or outside the home will expose your family and pets to toxic chemicals. In addition, pesticides of this nature do not discriminate between a harmful pest and a beneficial insect. Less toxic pest management techniques for the garden would include releasing ladybugs to eat the aphids, hand picking snails, and releasing praying mantises to eat larger pests. To control pests such as ants in the home, use bait stations that contain boric acid or another pesticide that targets only specific pests. Bait stations target only the species of pest you need to and don’t expose everyone in the home to toxins.

Using the principles of IPM, will do more than just reduce the need for toxic pesticides. By taking this holistic approach, you will also learn more about the plants and insects that live in your home and garden. This will ultimately lead to a more productive and healthy garden as you learn to better care for each plant species using the natural resources available to you.


IN.gov: Integrated Pest Management
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Integrated pest Management (IPM) Principles