Integrated Pest Control, also known as Integrated Pest Management, is a holistic and eco-friendly approach to pest control that employs the use of several pest control methods in conjunction with a deep knowledge of the biology, life cycle and interaction of the target pest(s) with its environment to formulate an approach that is very efficient at controlling the pests while posing the least possible threat to the environment or humans.
Understanding Integrated Pest Control
IPC (Integrated Pest Control ) or IPM (Integrated Pest Management) is all-encompassing. It adopts the best of every pest control and management method to yield the best result at any given time and for any given pest.
The focus of IPC is long-term pest control and not quick fixes. It will employ the use of any method, including the use of pesticides, only as needed. This results in a highly effective and efficient overall approach that gets the job done while being very friendly to the environment.
To achieve this, IPC has certain steps it takes. Let’s take a look at these:
Before any step is taken, the target pest or pests have to be identified. In addition to this, the level of infestation is also ascertained as this may influence the choice of a course of action to be taken.
Know the Pest
Now that the pest has been identified, it is important to know all there is to know about the pest. This includes its biology, life cycle, habits, food etc. Having this information will make it easier to control the pest.
Set a Threshold
Another important to know is what level of infestation actually constitutes a threat. You need to know what level of infestation is acceptable in the given ecosystem. When this is determined when to take action can be determined and the best course of action can then be more easily chosen.
The type of threat level should also be determined. The infestation may just be a nuisance or it could be a health risk or an economic one. The type of threat posed will determine the severity of the steps that will be taken in controlling the infestation.
You will likely not use the same aggressive approach you will use if the threat level is a health risk or economic risk level of a nuisance threat level infestation. The approach is very precise.
With the pest properly identified and an acceptable level of infestation determined, IPC will try to focus on preventing the pest from coming into space in the first place. Actions that may be taken to prevent the pest from taking residence in the space include removing the pests’ food. If it is a crop, then crop rotation will be considered as would planting varieties that are resistant.
If the pest cannot find its food in the location and if space is not conducive for its habitation, it certainly will not thrive there. These can be determined and achieved with your knowledge of the pest’s habits, likes and dislikes; among other things.
Now that you have done all of the above, you may still need to step in and control the pests. In Integrated Pest Control, the mildest method is usually considered first. Pesticides are only considered as a last resort.
Control methods that can be employed include trapping, weeding, physical removal, heat/cold treatment, and pesticide application. It is also possible to use chemicals that are very precise such as pheromones which mess with the pest’s mating process.
It could also involve the introduction of a different organism like a predator into the eco-space. A good example is the introduction of bats into a space infested by mosquitoes. Bats will naturally feed on the mosquitoes, drastically reducing their population and, by implication. the risk they pose.
Based on all that is known about the pest, the method that is most effective while being the least harmful to the applicator and the environment is applied and the result monitored.
If upon monitoring it is discovered that the method applied was not effective, then the next sensible method is applied.
This is an essential part of Integrated Pest Control. Every process has to be monitored and evaluated to know the level of effectiveness of any action taken. Because the approach aims to be highly precise and targeted, there needs to be constant monitoring to know how effective any step taken is and what adjustments need to be made where necessary.
Advantages of Integrated Pest Control
With the increasing awareness of the dangers of pest control chemicals, both to humans and livestock, there has been an increase in the search for a safer and yet effective pest control method. As explained above, Integrated Pest Control is a method that embraces all other methods, employing only the most appropriate for any given situation.
Some advantages of Integrated Pest Control Include:
- Encouraging more natural approaches to pest control
- Offering longer term pest control solutions
- Promoting a healthier environment by focusing on pest control methods that are eco-friendly
- A process that is precise and highly targeted, eliminating only the targeted pests and living other organisms intact
- Reducing the use of pest control chemicals and thereby reducing the risk of groundwater and air contamination
- Doing away with problems arising from residues from pest control chemicals
- Reducing the health risks associated with the application of pest control chemicals
- Reducing cases of pest’s resistance to pesticides as a result of repeated use
- Saving cost by reducing the need for pesticide treatments
Disadvantages of Integrated Pest Control
To everything that has advantages, there likely are disadvantages too. Some of the disadvantages of Integrated Pest Control are:
- It is more involving. Requiring that the practitioner gets involved in every aspect of the process
- It requires a lot of knowledge since every pest targeted has to be very closely studied and monitored
- It requires other resources that will take the place of insecticides
Having looked at this subject closely, the process involved and the advantages and disadvantages, it is pretty obvious that this is the way to go especially with the health concerns associated with pest control chemicals.
Looking at the advantages and disadvantages, one can immediately see that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Even the United States Environmental Protection Agency supports and promotes the use of this method. This says a lot about its effectiveness.