Q. What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a method for controlling harmful pests using a minimum of herbicides and pesticides. IPM does not mean the elimination of chemicals; rather it promotes their use only when needed after other management options have been exhausted. For homeowners who grow vegetables and fruits, as well as ornamentals, IPM provides their families with the best and healthiest produce and garden plants.
An important consideration in applying IPM is how much pest damage a homeowner can tolerate. Acceptance limits may be lower in highly visible areas, such as in front of the house and more acceptable in other areas. IPM stresses monitoring pest populations. If damage can be detected before a serious pest population becomes established, then severe problems can be avoided. Growing healthy plants will eliminate many pest problems. When purchasing plants always select high quality plants. If any disease is noted, do not purchase them. Disease-resistant plant varieties and cultivars are available for many garden plants. For established beds, remove infected plants and prune out diseased parts of plants. Discard or burn infected material. Use an appropriate amount of fertilizer so that the plants do not get too leggy and weak. Remove dead leaves and other plant debris from your plant beds. Also water the garden well in dry periods to keep your plants healthy.
If pest infestation is present or suspected, then IPM emphasizes biological control rather than relying on harmful insecticides and fungicides. For example, a bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, can be used in a diverse range of settings to control damaging insect larvae. Biological nematicides are also on the market for the control of soil-infecting plant parasitic nematodes in turf grass. Another biological is milky spore powder, used to control Japanese beetle grubs. Natural enemies, such as lady beetles, lacewings and beneficial wasps provide constant control when present in sufficient populations in landscape plantings. Plants of the daisy family (Asteraceae) and the carrot family (Apiaceae) are particularly effective in attracting beneficial insects. By limiting the use of insecticides and growing a suitable range of plants in the garden, populations of these beneficial insects can be enhanced, keeping pests in check. Traps can be useful in controlling some insects and other animals. Traps are commercially available for some turf grass insect pests such as Japanese beetle and sod web worm. Some chemical treatments such as vinegar or perhaps Bordeaux mixture are also acceptable, as are insecticidal soaps.
The EPA website is a good source of further information and links to other websites.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service