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Ode to IPM

R.K. Lindquist

Professor Emeritus
Department of Entomology
The Ohio State University/OARDC

Author’s Note: Composed about the time of the full moon, with apologies to Dr. Seuss, Ogden Nash, Garrison Keillor, etc.

So, you’ve had it up to here with all those pesticide sprays,
in all kinds of very sound and basic ways.
Tired of donning chemical-resistant gloves and rubber boots,
along with, of course, respirators and Gore-Tex Spray suits.

Spraying every week, on about the same day,
is called, by some, spray and pray.
Do away with spray and pray, you say?
But will the pests then simply go away?

You spray and spray, and spray, and spray,
but the pests do not go away, do they?
They’re still around, and become more persistent.
Part of the problem is, of course, they’re pesticide-resistant.

So, with your pest control program under duress,
you probably have been reading the trade press
about the wondrous success (heaven sent?)
of a program called integrated pest management.

IPM is, to some, the ultimate answer to everything.
Well, if you believe that, I’ve got a nice bridge to sell.
IPM does not eliminate all the time spent spraying,
but it should reduce the time spent praying.

So IPM is the “in” thing. But, you say,
where do I begin? Show me the way.
Well, dear reader, read on, and see
at the end of the story where we will be.

The components of IPM are many, and logical,
and include more than just control biological.
Physical and cultural methods are also part of the way.
And, yes, there may still be a need to apply a pesticide spray.

Physical methods such as screens may be handy.
If they keep out the insects, why that’s just dandy.
Cultural methods you should also employ.
Avoid cultivars that, to insects, are a joy.

Natural enemies may also have their places
if you give them enough time, and spaces.
Their proper introduction will be the key,
or their use probably will fail, miserably.

So, let us begin at the beginning with a first thing,
that no doubt has a very familiar ring:
You’ve got to know what, how many, and where
before proceeding from “about here” to “nearly there.”

“How can this be done?” you say, shouting.
Well, begin by sticky trapping, and scouting.
Doing these operations about once a week
will help to find the pests that you seek.

Trapping and plant scouting are not ends in themselves,
and may not keep pesticides resting on the shelves.
But to know what you’ve got, or if you have not
is an IPM fundamental, so give it a shot.

Keeping records is important as well,
because, over time, they have a story to tell.
Numbers of pests on traps, or plants on a chart
will give some idea of whereabouts thou art.

If pest numbers go up you may need to spray more often,
but if no pests are seen our approach you can soften.
If you must spray, use materials less toxic, more benign,
and the natural enemies may all be just fine.

Spray only when you absolutely, positively must.
This is a principle in which you can trust.
Also, by reducing the number of pesticide applications,
you may have time and money to take more vacations.

With time to practice, you may become a proponent
of a pest management system with more than one component.
In so doing, you will know that it is often not simple, and hence,
you will see that it’s not magic, but just common sense.

So, IPM may not lighten everyone’s load,
but it sure ain’t no dead skunk in the road.
Pest, disease, and crop combinations may conspire
to cause severe problems, and make you perspire.

To use IPM, then, have the right attitude.
Forget about zero pests, you must have some latitude.
If things are not yet perfect don’t be a foot stamper.
Keep a smile on your face, be a happy camper.