Globalization and increased mobility in recent decades have allowed increasing numbers of invasive species to cross geographic borders.

This has complicated the task of pest management, but strategies are now available that effectively control pests while posing few risks to the environment.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a broad-based, effective, and environmentally sustainable approach that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM identifies the types of pest that are likely to become a problem on a property before determining the best management strategy. A company that specializes in IPM will monitor a home or commercial facility, considering information about the potential pests, like their biology and their responses to environmental factors, to determine if they can be tolerated or must be controlled. If control is needed, this information also guides the selection of effective management methods and the best use of resources.

IPM programs combine management approaches for greater effectiveness. These approaches may include: biological control, cultural controls, mechanical and physical controls, and chemical controls. A unique combination of these approaches, based on the information gathered about the pest in question, is the most effective way to manage problems and prevent future invasions.

Biological Control

Biological pest control, or biocontrol, uses natural enemies – predators, parasites, pathogens, and competitors – to control pests and their damage. Invertebrates, plant pathogens, nematodes, weeds, and small vertebrates – those low on the food chain – tend to have many natural enemies that can be used to control them. Again, proper identification of pests is essential for effective biological control. For example many people mistake syrphid fly larvae, which actually eat aphids, for invasive caterpillars.

Cultural Control

Cultural controls are practices that reduce pest establishment, reproduction, dispersal, and survival. For example, one might change an irrigation schedule to deprive a certain pest of moisture at the time of day when it needs it for survival or reproduction. Changing the height of turf  to deprive them of shelter, or replacing decorative plants with other species to deprive them of a favored food source, can also be effective cultural methods to control certain pests.

Mechanical and Physical Control

Mechanical and physical pest control traps, constrains, or kills a pest directly. Traps for rodents, fences, barriers, and electric wires are all examples of mechanical control. Physical controls also include steam sterilization of soil for disease management, and manipulation of indoor temperatures. These mechanical and physical controls are often just a minor part of IPM as they kill or restrict entry to the pests at the site of invasion, not necessarily at the site of origin.

Chemical Control

Traditional pest control involved the routine application of harsh pesticides. IPM, in contrast, focuses on total pest prevention. While IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management strategies, including the use of some pesticides, that application is often limited because the exposure risk of a pesticide may outweigh its benefits. Chemical controls are typically used only in combination with other approaches for the most effective, long-term control.

It is the unique combination of approaches to manage pest problems and prevent future invasions that makes IPC so beneficial. IPM reduces the number of pests, reduces the number of pesticide applications, and saves money while protecting human and environmental health. IPM can be more labor intensive up front than conventional pest control methods, but costs are generally lower over time because the underlying cause of the pest problem is addressed.

IPM practices also provide benefits unrelated to the pests, like weatherization of buildings (a mechanical control) which not only excludes pests but also saves energy and reduces moisture problems. By reducing exposure to both pests and pesticides, IPM may reduce allergy and asthma symptoms in some children and adults.

YES Pest Pros is the number one choice for pest management in Indiana. We practice Integrated Pest Management without the use of pesticides. Visit us online today to learn more about what IPM from YES Pest Pros can do for your home or business.