Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management, what is it. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is basically a knowledge based system of pest control. Instead of using the pesticide as the first line of attack. The goal of Integrated Pest Management is to make the use of pesticides the last line of attack. You need to identify your problem is or even if you have a problem, before looking for a solution. Then use the one that will be effective.

There are several levels of control that should be used first, and if that does not work, then you go on to the next step. The system is not organic, but does lessen the likelihhood that chemicals will be used to control a problem, by trying to prevent the problem in the first place.

1) Host Resistance – The first step in IPM is to use disease or insect resistant varieties in the first place. This lessens the chance a pest will find your plant attractive.

2) Biological Control – Invite beneficial insects or nematodes into your garden. The good bugs will prey on the bad bugs. Almost everyone knows that lady bugs eat aphids (at least their nymphs do), but do you also know that there are many parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside a pest bug or otherwise prey on the bad bug? Planting plants and flowers that attracts good bugs love will get them to your garden. Food in the form of bad bugs will make them stay.

3) Mechanical Control – This is the search and destroy method. You go out looking for your pest and kill it, using a mechanical means, like snipping slugs in half. This also means cutting off a diseased branch from a shrub.

4) Sanitation – Keep things clean. Clean up and diseased plants or plant debris, ie diseased leaves, branches or fruit.

5) Pesticides – If none of the above methods have worked, now is the time to consider using pesticides. Again, use the least toxic one first (this could include insecticidal soaps or similar) before going on to a more toxic substance. However, you need to consider what is the most effective solution. If a more toxic substance is the only one that will work with a problem, you do use that method. Of course, you must follow the instructions on the label of any pesticide, both for your safety and everyone elses.

If you need help with a plant problem in the garden or to find out if you have one, you can get good information and garden tips for free from your local Master Gardeners.  And use an approach like Integrated Pest Management to take care of whatever is bugging you in your garden.