Integrated Pest Management in Depth
IPM originated in agriculture and is based on the concept that there are agriculture pest levels, which can be tolerated without suffering significant crop production losses, and the cost of pesticide use is not justified. However, if the pest population exceeds a predetermined threshold, insecticides are applied to lower the population below the economic threshold.
The agriculture concept of IPM poses some problems for the structural pest control industry. Economic thresholds within the structural pest management industry are not commonly used because the customers’ aesthetic (economic) threshold is zero and their expectations often mandate that the pest problem be solved immediately.
Occasionally, action thresholds have been used within the structural pest management, for instance, the Department of Defense in a recent publication suggests that an average sticky trap catch of less than one cockroach per trap, per night does not justify pesticide application. It further suggests that trap catches of one to three cockroaches per trap, per night may require a spot treatment. However, this is an exceptional case in structural pest control.
A few organizations characterize IPM as an approach to pest management that considers the use of pesticides as an independent entity and not as a component of the program. This flies in the face of what IPM is and what its goal should be, the decision making process and planning program designed to identify specific pests and infestation sites, suppress the infestation with short-term solutions, and reduce the causes of infestation with long-term strategies.
How does IPM Work?
There are no quick fixes in this industry. If there were, cockroaches would have been eradicated a long time ago. Successful pest management programs depend on locating problem areas and harborages that are not always apparent. OMNIS practices IPM on all our customers. We believe it is the best approach to pest management today.
An IPM program can include any or all of the following elements:
Cultural practices are those factors influenced by humans and their environments. Sanitation is the most important cultural practice affecting the success of a pest management plan, and it is a customer responsibility. Sanitation removes the essential elements for pest survival, i.e., food, water and shelter.
Biological techniques involve the use of living organisms or their by-products to control pests. Parasites and predators are very useful in controlling outdoor pests. However, there’s very little application indoors. Fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms have been used successfully in a few situations indoors, and one of the most popular baits in the industry is derived from bacteria.
Mechanical devices have for hundreds of years been used to manage pest populations. There is probably no household in the United States that does not have a fly swatter. There are wind-up live traps, sticky traps, snap traps, and a variety of other devices for controlling rodents. Screening, netting, hardware cloth, caulking, and expandable foam are examples of a few of the products available in preventive pest management.
Physical techniques typically involve the use of heat or cold to control pest populations. Depending on the exposure time, temperatures above 140 degree F are usually sufficient to kill most stages of arthropods.
Pesticides are products designed to kill or control pests by affecting their behavior or growth, e.g., repellents, insect growth regulators, plant growth retardants, etc., and they are a crucial component of IPM.