IPM in Communities

IPM—integrated pest management—is your choice for solid science, sound solutions in dealing with pests. We promote safe, least-toxic solutions to both pest and pesticide problems.

IPM Basics:

Know your pests: it’s essential to IPM.  If you treat for the wrong pest, you waste time and money. Abiotic problems can mimic pest damage too. Don’t spend money and time on treatments that don’t work or may damage your operation.

Relying too heavily on just one tactic makes for adaptable pests. Pests can become resistant to pesticides. The battle against pests costs money—which you should weigh against what you might lose from a pest. The balance point, or threshold, from situation to situation. This is where scouting, a cornerstone of IPM, kicks in. Meanwhile, maintaining tolerable levels of pests helps keep their natural enemies—the insects or diseases that prey on them—on location and working for you.

Start to finish, good IPM is based on these seven steps:

Prepare: Be aware of the potential problems and opportunities at your site. Know your pests—and keep good records.

Prevent: Protect your landscape and buildings for the long term.

Monitor: Scout your landscape and buildings to find out which pests are on your site or in your space.

Analyze: Your threshold data will tell you if it’s time to act.

Manage: Choose among tactics that provide the best balance of economic and environmental cost and effectiveness while reducing risk.

Apply: When management is justified, do it right.

Reevaluate: Look at your results, fine-tune your response—and make proactive plans for next time.

Seven steps to IPM for buildings and grounds

Step 1: Prepare.

Know your pests.

Which pests can you expect? What do they look like? What kind of damage can they cause? When and how should you watch for them? What can you do to avoid them? Which tactics should you use to manage them? What are your strengths and limitations in terms of skill and equipment? What beneficial species will help you?

Think of pests as populations instead of as individuals. Populations have

  • density: how many are in the workspace, storage area, lawn, garden, kitchen, break room, foundation, furnace room, classrooms, walls, attic?
  • age distributions: a pest may be susceptible to treatment at one point in its life cycle, but not at another—and are the pests at that point, or not?

Step 2: Prevent.

Protect buildings and landscapes for the long term. Learn what pests need to thrive—then don’t give it to them. Mostly that would be food, water, and shelter. Help your clients by educating them.

Examples:

  • remove hiding places and shelter, both inside and outside buildings. Clean gutters, prune branches away from buildings
  • build them out: repair or replace damp wood, install door sweeps and screens, plug all holes and cracks, fix the plumbing, seal the ductwork
  • keep it clean: no food, no ants! Wipe up spills and crumbs right away. Keep pet food and birdseed in gnaw-proof, tightly closed containers; don’t leave pet food out overnight
  • mow the right way to keep down weeds, help prevent diseases, and keep lawns healthy
  • promote biological diversity in the landscape to give beneficial organisms a helping hand
  • plant varieties that resist common disease and insect pests
  • improve your soil for healthier plants with better “survival skills”

Step 3: Monitor.

Scout landscapes and buildings to find out which pests are in your space.

Landscapers can use our NEWA pest forecasts and Cornell University’s Branching Out newsletter to decide if, when, and where to scout.

Monitor buildings inside and out by visual checks, glue boards, or pheromone traps for mice and rats, cockroaches, wasps and bees, ants (including carpenter ants), bedbugs, and more.

Step 4: Analyze.

Is it time to act?

Most lawns and landscape plants can tolerate a certain number of pests—and all control actions have costs, whether economic or environmental, as well as benefits.

For pest management professionals, maintenance staff, or householders dealing with indoor and structural pests, tolerance is often zero: zero cockroaches, mice, rats, carpenter ants, and termites. Other creatures—wasps or bats, for example—may bear tolerance, since they also provide benefits. Still others are accidental visitors and require managing only if they exceed a institutional or personal “critter tolerance level.”

Step 5: Manage.

If action is called for, choose among those that provide the best balance of economic and environmental cost and effect while reducing risk.

Examples:

  • rotate garden crops; mop away ants’ “scent trails” to food (cultural)
  • cultivate to destroy weeds; install skunk, raccoon, or rat-proof barriers; special vacuums for wasps, cockroaches (mechanical)
  • apply fungus to infect gypsy moth; nematodes to infect viburnum leaf beetles (biological)
  • choose pest-resistant landscape, house, and garden plants (genetic)
  • judicious, careful use of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and baits (chemical)

Our EIQ (Environmental Impact Quotient) helps you weigh environmental costs and benefits when choosing among conventional and organic chemicals.

Step 6: Apply.

When management is justified, do it right. For instance, biological control agents—nematodes and other “good bugs”—need to be released in the proper situation, at the proper time. Pesticides may only work during a certain part of a pest’s life cycle. If you use a pesticide, be sure you READ THE LABEL, follow the directions, and wear protective clothing. 

Step 7: Reevaluate.

Short term, long term…

Did you make the right decision; did you get the results you wanted? How much has the situation changed since last week? Is a different tactic called for?

Good science. Good sense. IPM.