Why Practice IPM?

hummingbird on yellow flowersYou might be wondering why you should even consider IPM when pesticides so often succeed at controlling pests.  Here are some reasons for using a broader approach to pest management than just the use of pesticides.

  • Many IPM practices are used before a pest problem develops to prevent or hinder the buildup of pests.
  • Keep a Balanced Ecosystem. Every ecosystem, made up of living things and their nonliving environment, has a balance; the actions of one creature in the ecosystem will affect other organisms.  Many of our actions in an ecosystem can change this balance, destroying certain species and allowing other species (sometimes pests themselves) to dominate.  Beneficial insects, such as the ladybird beetle and lacewing larvae, both of which consume pests, can be killed by pesticides, leaving fewer natural mechanisms of pest control.
  • Reliance on Pesticides can be Problematic.  Pesticides are not always effective when used as a singular control tactic.  Pests can become resistant to pesticides. In fact, some 600 cases of pests developing pesticide resistance have been documented to date, including populations of common lambsquarters, house flies, anopheles mosquitoes, Colorado potato beetles, Indian meal moths, Norway rats, and greenhouse whiteflies.
  • IPM Is Not Difficult. You will have done much of the “work” for an IPM approach if you’ve figured out the problem (the pest), determined the extent of the pest population, and decided on the best combination of actions to take.
  • Maximize Effectiveness of Control Tactics.  Pest control practitioners, following traditional programs, sometimes apply pesticide treatments on a calendar-based schedule regardless of the stage of development of the target pest and the number of pests present.  Using an IPM approach will help ensure that all control tactics, including pesticides, are used at the proper time and only to reduce pest damage to acceptable levels.  This will reduce economic and environmental costs from unnecessary pesticide applications and help ensure that control tactics are used when they will be most effective.
  • Promote a Healthy Environment.  The definition of IPM promotes careful consideration of all pest control options with the protection of human health and the environment as key goals.
  • Natural Enemies Conserved. Beneficial organisms like parasites and predators are part of the natural control mechanism for some pest populations.  These natural controls are considered and protected in an IPM program.
  • Protection of Soil Health. Plant health is dependent on soil health so protection of soil health is a key component in any IPM program.
  • Efficient and Effective Use of Soil Amendments and Irrigation. Following an IPM program will help a grower get the best results from the composts, fertilizers, micronutrients, or other soil amendments they apply as well as improve irrigation results
  • Maintain a Good Public Image. A thoughtful approach to pest control, which protects the environment and provides an abundant, affordable crop and safe living conditions, is a basic goal of IPM.