Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a scientific, step-wise approach to pest management. The IPM approach “integrates” knowledge of pest identity, biology and environmental information with pest monitoring. As a result, economically, environmentally and socially sound actions can be implemented at the most opportune times as necessary.

IPM is a decision-making process that emphasizes practices which often lead to a decrease in the amount of pesticide used inside of the structure, thereby reducing the pesticide exposure risks for those occupying the treated space.

IPM Strategies and Requirements

The IPM method utilizes a combination of management tactics including education, exclusion, sanitation, maintenance, biological, mechanical controls and/or site appropriate pesticides. Typically, these strategies are implemented to achieve an effective treatment plan tailored specifically toward a particular pest scenario. For many, this approach is favored over exclusive dependence of liquid insecticides.

The integration of at least two (2) or more strategies to achieve long-term solutions is highly advocated. While prevention and early intervention is emphasized to avoid pest outbreaks, consumer education is also key. Notwithstanding, it is critical that the pest control technician is qualified to identify the pest, determine the root cause of the infestation, and understand the needs, habits, and basic biology of the pest in order to establish successful control measures.

Basic Fundamentals

The integration of at least two (2) or more strategies to achieve long-term solutions is highly advocated. While prevention and early intervention is emphasized to avoid pest outbreaks, consumer education is also key. Notwithstanding, it is critical that the pest control technician is qualified to identify the pest, determine the root cause of the infestation, and understand the needs, habits, and basic biology of the pest in order to establish successful control measures.

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Sanitation

Pests live in areas that provide basic needs such as food, water and shelter. They can often be managed by removing one or more of their necessities, such as food and water sources. Proper sanitation is a vital part of IPM and includes such simple, but effective methods as:

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  • Properly storing food and other items attractive to pests
  • Cleaning up spills promptly
  • Using tight-fitting garbage pail lids and waste receptacles
  • Storing wastes away from sensitive area

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Exclusion

Exclusion is another vital part of IPM. It consists of finding and sealing harborages and entry points into the building or its critical areas.

Prompt repairs and building maintenance are essential and should be made as soon as feasible to minimize the usage of these areas by pests. These areas include gaps around doors, pipes, and wires, torn screens, cracks in the floor and other flaws that could support pest entry sites and harborages.

Monitoring

Another critical element of IPM is monitoring on an ongoing basis to determine pest activity and severity. Monitoring tools include a flashlight inspection and the use of glue boards in areas that would be attractive to pests or where pests have been reported. A visual inspection is the most useful monitoring technique for detecting certain pests such as ants and roaches.

A successful monitoring program depends on clear and frequent communication and participation between the PMP (Pest Management Professional) and those who occupy the structure since those individuals have firsthand knowledge of pest sightings, sanitation problems and other contributing factors, such as structural repairs that are needed, leaks, condensation problems and harborage sites.

Proper Food Storage

Proper food storage refers not only to storage of human food, but also pet food, animal feed, and any other material that may be used as food by pests. Depriving pests of food is a critical part of IPM.

Food that is not kept in the refrigerator should be kept in containers that close tightly. Do not bring shipping boxes into the food preparation area. Upon delivery, transfer packaged food into plastic or glass containers. Cardboard boxes should be broken down and stored away from the kitchen in a cool area until removal. Keep particularly attractive substances, like sugar and honey in the refrigerator.

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IPM and Pesticide Application

The judicious use of pesticides is a part of an IPM program when monitoring indicates that the use of pesticides is necessary. Most structural-infesting insects that require a chemical solution can be controlled with baits and other low-impact chemicals. When pesticides are required under an IPM treatment program, most applications are made using a “crack and crevice” technique in which the insecticide is injected into a crack or crevice thereby limiting access and direct exposure to humans and other non-target animals.

To put it another way, pesticides are used in IPM as a supplement to non-chemical methods, not as the primary method of pest control. By utilizing proper IPM techniques, the use of pesticides can be minimized and sometimes avoided altogether. But when they are needed, they are judiciously chosen and applied in a manner which minimizes dosage and exposure, and maximizes effectiveness.