In the last few years, the term “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM) has become more and more prevalent in the pest control industry. While the phrase is new, the practice is not. To summarize, IPM is a universally used pest control method, one that differs from what most people are accustom to. When people typically think about pest control services, they think pesticides. The IPM approach avoids this type of practice – using pesticides as a last resort – and acts more as a mindset than a program.
IPM isn’t about merely eliminating pests when they show up in a home; instead, it’s a continual process that focuses on awareness and management. It’s an advantageous method for pest control, one that focuses on pest thresholds and population limitations. It’s not only safe for pets, children and elderly, but also for the environment and your home. Let’s go a bit more in-depth into IPM and the steps involved:
This is the initial step in an IPM program and involves a thorough inspection of a home to locate the source, extent, conditions, and causes of infestations. This is an observational tactic that helps you identify entry points or items and factors that promote infestations. This inspection occurs inside and outside the home – on all levels of a structure. The goal is to identify points of entry, causes, or any other factor that is attributing (or attribute) to infestation promotion.
Now that we have inspected all aspects of the home or structure, it’s time to understand what exactly we are or will be dealing with. By identifying the pest, we can continue the IPM process to develop and integrate the proper methods and techniques. However, merely identifying a pest as a cockroach or mouse isn’t enough. With the IPM process, we need to identify the pest also to identify its habits, food requirements, habitat requirements, etc. This information varies depending on the TYPE of pest. Even if it’s a cockroach, different species have different habits, so it’s vital to identify its exact type.
Establish a threshold.
The “pest threshold” concept comes from agricultural pest control – a way of measuring population control against the pros and cons of pest presence. This step takes a lot of things into facts so, to sum it up, the threshold level is a standard at which the pest population becomes large enough that damage to property is likely to occur. The concept of threshold levels originated in the area of agricultural pest control. In most rural settings, having pests present is sometimes a good thing. However, when the population rises and they break the threshold, steps need to be taken. For an urban setting, the thresholds change and fluctuate, being influenced by health & safety, legal restrictions, and customer tolerance. Let’s clear this up by using an example: Having a few cockroaches in a warehouse that manufactures steel pipes isn’t a huge deal. The threshold for these pests is relatively high, as they don’t cause a problem. On the other hand, a cockroach in a restaurant or place that serves food has a very low threshold for cockroaches. Not even one is okay. These situations explain the different thresholds for IPM.
Employ control methods.
The IPM approach is unique in that it applies a program that uses more than one strategy or control measure for implementation. The reason IPM is so widely accepted is that these methods are less hazardous, toxic, expensive, disruptive, damaging, invasive and so on. These measures vary and must be implemented in pairs to truly act as an IPM application. The five major types include:
- This helps eliminate the pest’s food and water supply, taking away the resources they need to survive.
- For this approach, traps, caulks, seals and barriers are used. This is also known as a physical approach, as it focuses on the prevention of keeping pests out and blocking entryways. This method also includes the use of traps via snares; snap traps, sticky traps, etc., paired with temperature manipulation to eliminate pests.
- This control method involves manipulating the pest’s environment, making it less appealing to them. Cultural control involves changing inhabitant’s practices to discourage the spread of an infestation.
- Using parasites, predators, or pathogens is involved in biological control. This method is least damaging to the environment and can involve the growth of fungus or other creates who help to eliminate pests naturally.
- This control measure is the final and also the last resort. When developing your IPM program, this should be considered as a last-ditch effort. However, there may be times when pesticides are the first and only option to reduce or eliminate a pest population.
As the last step in the IPM process, the evaluation of effectiveness is one of the more vital. Are your methods working? Did the pest get identified correctly? This step often involves following ups and re-inspections to ensure everything is maintained. During this process, we usually look at potentially overlooked areas and entry points, as well as the reapplication or revision of any procedure. This is a due diligence step that allows us to understand what is and isn’t work and adjust accordingly.
As you can see, IPM implementation isn’t merely walking into a home and spraying pesticides everywhere, nor is it reactionary to a problem. IPM focuses on being cognizant of your home, the pests inside of it, and how you can manage them in the least invasive and safest way possible.
This is just a brief overview of IPM and, as we’re sure you’ve noticed, a professional can only appropriately do a lot of these steps. Luckily, you have us – the professionals. If you’d like to learn more about IPM, implement it into your home, or get a FREE inspection, call us today!