The acronym, PAMS, which stands for Prevention, Avoidance, Monitoring and Suppression is an easy way to remember the actions you can take in IPM. 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.
Other common prevention tactics include:
- Using pest-free certified seed, transplants or other materials
- Cleaning equipment to avoid carrying pests such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and weed seed to new areas
- Fumigating greenhouses between production cycles
- Stopping the transfer of firewood that may be infested with tree-killing insects or pathogens (for more information on pest quarantines see Regulatory control in IPM tactics page).
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
- Altering planting and harvesting dates to avoid weather favorable to pest development
- Selecting locations that favor plant growth over pests, i.e., “right plant in the right place”
- Removing standing water that attracts mosquitoes and allows populations to build up
Monitoring, as part of the PAMS approach can be broken down into two essential stages or activities: monitoring and assessment. After precautions to prevent and avoid pest infestations have been taken, it is important to watch regularly for the appearance (and reappearance) of insects, weeds, diseases, and other pests. This is called monitoring (for simplicity, we use the term “monitoring” to be synonymous with “inspection,” “scouting,” and “sampling” though they do have different meanings, or are used in different contexts.) Managing pests requires an absolute commitment to pest monitoring. Commonly this means identifying where potential pests are present, but it may also include determining the severity of infestations, presence of pesticide resistance in the population, failure of netting or screens, indications of activity from (or presence of) natural enemies and damage to the asset being protected (crop, building, etc.). Visit the Monitoring page for more details.
Suppression tactics are used when indicators of pest activity call for action to reduce the risk of damage. Choice and timing of using these tactics are based on the pest biology and behavior, limitations placed on the area where the pest is occurring, tolerance for injury, economics, and impacts of the control measures themselves. Suppression tactics include cultural practices, physical barriers, biological controls, and pesticide applications described in the IPM tactics page. Remember to assess the success or failure of any corrective measures taken!
Follow up! After corrective measures are taken, assess the success or failure of the suppression tactic. Monitoring will determine if additional or different suppression tactics are needed, as well as informing future prevention and avoidance activities.