One approach to summarize IPM is with the acronym PAMS which stands for Prevention, Avoidance, Monitoring and Suppression. We use this acronym, because it is simple, and it connects pest biology with what we do to solve pest problems. By combining tactics from each of the PAMS categories into a single strategy, pests can be managed with minimal environmental impacts. Click here for an example of a PAMS approach to mouse control.
Prevention tactics keep potential pests from entering an area or inhibit their spread to new areas. The key to prevention is understanding what the pest needs to survive. Perhaps there is debris or an open waste bin near a school building that attracts mice, or plant material from a previous harvest near your field or in your garden that harbors pests and needs to be removed. Simple assessments and actions can prevent the problem or pest from ever happening.
Common prevention tactics include:
- Using pest-free certified seed, transplants or other materials
- Using good sanitation practices that remove pests
- Eliminating alternative hosts or habitats that facilitate pest movement
- Cleaning equipment to avoid carrying pests such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and weed seed to new areas
- Placing or erecting barriers like fencing or netting
- Making sure buildings are in good condition and potential foods are stored properly
- Choosing proper landscapes for agriculture and urbanization that reduce naturally occurring overlaps with potential pests
- Fumigating greenhouses between production cycles
- Stopping the transfer of firewood that may be infested with tree-killing insects or pathogens.
Observing pest quarantines can slow the spread or prevent invasion by new organisms. Many pests spread from initial introductions at airports or other transportation hubs. Efforts to inspect cargo at ports of entry, quarantine new populations, and slow the spread of new pests are frequently undervalued but provide the highest return of investment for management while avoiding disruptions to the currently used IPM strategies.
If a pest is already present, or if it may turn up every year, avoidance tactics are those that limit resources and create inhospitable conditions to make life (and reproduction) as hard as possible for the pest organism. Prevention and avoidance tactics work best together when currently pest-free areas are also made unfavorable to pest development.
Common avoidance tactics include
- Rotating crops to avoid giving the pest consistent access to preferred hosts
- Selecting pest-resistant plants
- Altering planting and harvesting dates to avoid weather favorable to pest development
- Optimizing fertilizers, water and plant spacing to produce stress-free plants
- Selecting locations that favor plant growth over pests, i.e., “right plant in the right place”
- Sealing leaky windows and doors, removing debris in the interior and repairing damp or rotting locations that are attractive to household pests.
- Removing standing water that attracts mosquitoes and allows populations to build up