IPM Concepts

Crapemyrtle. Photo by Richard Webb, Bugwood.org.

Crapemyrtle. Photo by Richard Webb, Bugwood.org.

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a broad-based approach to designing and maintaining landscapes in which pests, diseases and weeds are either prevented or suppressed using a combination of practices (cultural, mechanical, biological or chemical). These practices are based on the concepts, or principles, of

  • scouting and monitoring
  • pest identification
  • damage recognition
  • action threshold

Most landscape managers desire landscapes free, or near-free, of arthropods considered to be pests. However, in certain instances, such as butterfly gardens, there is a desire to encourage certain arthropod populations.

It is important to remember that every insect, whether pest or beneficial, has an important role to play in our ecology. All organisms are interconnected in our environment.  What humans consider a pest to be eliminated is an important food source for another organism or feeds on other insects.

Scouting and Monitoring

Scouting and monitoring for pest populations is essential to good IPM programs. By regularly inspecting the premises and plantings, insect other arthropods can be detected and identified to make sure which are actually causing damage. Notice any subtle changes that might signal weak or damaged areas.

Pest Identification

Pest identification should be as accurate as possible. Management programs improve significantly with specific knowledge of the pest, its life cycle and behavior. Careful monitoring of species can enable you to detect subtle changes in a complex of pest species.  Read more >>

Damage Recognition

Learn to recognize and diagnose damage to the plants in your landscape:

  • Physical damage (breakage, sunburn)
  • Plant diseases (viruses, fungi, bacteria)
  • Arthropod pests (sow bugs, pill bugs, millipedes, insects, mites)
  • Slugs and snails
  • Vertebrates (rabbits, squirrels, deer, etc.)

Action Threshold

The action threshold is the point (aesthetic, economic) at which the pest population or plant damage level requires remediation.  The important thing to remember here is that there is  no such thing as an insect-free landscape. Insects are a vital part of the environment and, overall, play an important beneficial role.  So, just because a pest is present doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem.
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Next >> IPM Practices