Implementing a Functional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program
By ElRay Roper, Ph.D., Senior Technical Representative, Syngenta Professional Pest Management
The Environmental Protection Agency defines Integrated Pest Management as:
“An effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment.”
The question when considering this definition is how does it work in a practical manner in the urban setting? One answer is that there is no set plan that must be followed in all situations. IPM is about being flexible and proactive to manage pest problems.
A true IPM program is not a set protocol that is followed. Instead, consider the environmental factors and pest problems specific to each customer. An integrated approach to pest management includes four basic steps:
2. Development of a comprehensive plan
3. Plan Execution
4. Evaluation and refinement of the plan
Let us take a more in-depth look at how these four steps work.
An inspection needs to be thorough to be effective. Consider the following:
1. What are the potential entry points for pests? Look at doors, windows, vents, utility openings, cracks and structural defects, rain gutters, etc.
2. Does poor sanitation create harborage, food and moisture for pests?
3. What pests will be abundant and likely to appear?
4. Is landscaping conducive to pest harborages? Look for plantings next to the structure, limbs touching the structure, heavy mulch, ground covers, plants susceptible to attack by aphids and other honeydew producers that attract ants, water features that may harbor mosquitos, etc.
5. Are faulty down spouts and/or grading creating moisture problems?
6. Is lighting attracting pests to the structure?
7. Have you looked everywhere for pest harborage? On flat top buildings, do not forget to look at the roof.
Once you have a good idea of existing and/or potential pest problems you can develop an action plan. Work with the property owner or manager to ensure the plan works for them. Possible solutions include:
1. Cleaning up debris and garbage on the property.
2. Modifying landscaping to remove harborage for insects, mice and rats.
3. Repairing window screens and weather stripping on doors to keep over-wintering pests from entering the structure.
4. Installing monitoring devices like glue boards to identify specific pest pressures.
5. Pruning landscape plantings and treating with a systemic insecticide to eliminate aphids and other insects that attract ants.
6. Modifying lighting by doors to avoid attracting flying insects and spiders that feed on them.
7. Applying residual insecticides such as dusts or foams to voids that cannot be sealed.
8. Applying a perimeter insecticide to keep unwanted pests from harboring adjacent to the structure.
The plan is of no use if it is not closely followed, and it may be tempting to take shortcuts. Your management skills will be tested by ensuring all parts of the plan are executed and that the property owner/manager/occupants cooperate with implementation of the plan. This can be particularly challenging in multi-occupant properties like strip malls or apartments.
Evaluation and Refinement of the Plan
Often we think this step needs to take place after all steps in the first plan have been completed. The plan can and should be referenced each time you are on the property. Key drivers of the plan should be economy, human safety, environmental stewardship and efficacy. This step includes additional inspection and a discussion with the property owner or manager on how the plan is working.
As you can see, integrated pest management is not a cookie cutter approach to pest management. It can be as simple or complex as the properties you care for. IPM allows you to use your knowledge of pests, properties and the tools available to manage them for the benefit of your customers and proper stewardship of the environment.
For more information, please contact the Syngenta Customer Center at 1-866-SYNGENT(A) (796-4368). www.syngentapmp.com
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