Integrated pest control (IPC) is also known as integrated pest management (IPM) or sustainable pest control. This is a holistic and eco-friendly approach to pest control. It employs several pest control methods in conjunction with a deep knowledge of the biology, life cycle, and interaction of the target pest(s) with their environment to plan an approach that’s very efficient at controlling the pests while posing the least possible threat to the environment and humans.
Understanding Integrated Pest Control
Integrated pest control is an all-encompassing approach. It adopts the best of every pest control and management method to yield the best results at any given time for any given pest.
The focus of IPC is on long-term pest control, not quick fixes. It will use any method, including pesticides, but only as needed. This results in a highly effective and efficient approach that gets the job done while being environmentally friendly.
To achieve this, IPC follows certain steps. Let’s take a look at them.
Before taking any steps, you must identify the target pest(s). You must also determine the level of infestation since this may influence your choice of course of action.
Know the Pest
Now that you’ve identified your pest(s), it’s important to know all there is to know them. This includes their biology, life cycle, habits, food, etc. Having this information will make it easier to control them.
Set a Threshold
Another important thing 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. By determining this, you can also determine when to take action. Choosing the best course of action becomes easier as well.
You should also determine the type of threat level. Your infestation may just be a nuisance. It could also constitute a health or economic risk. The type of threat will determine the severity of the steps taken to control the infestation.
You’ll probably use a more aggressive approach for a health or economic risk than for a nuisance. The approach is always very precise.
You’ve properly identified your pest and have determined an acceptable level of infestation. Now, IPC will try to focus on preventing the pest from entering your home in the first place. One action that may prevent the pest from taking up residence in a space includes removing its food source. If this is a crop, then you should consider crop rotation as well as planting pest-resistant varieties.
If the pest can’t find its food and the space isn’t a conducive habitat, it certainly won’t thrive there. You can achieve this through your knowledge of the pest’s habits, likes, and dislikes, among other things.
Now that you’ve done all of the above, you may still need to step in and actually control the pests. In integrated pest control, the mildest method is usually considered first. Pesticides are a last resort.
These control methods include trapping, weeding, physical removal, heat/cold treatment, and pesticide application. Using very precise chemicals is also possible, such as pheromones that mess with the pest’s mating process.
This step could also involve the introduction of a different organism, like a predator, into the environment. One good example of this is the introduction of bats into a space infested by mosquitoes. Bats will naturally feed on mosquitoes. This drastically reduces their population as well as the risk they pose.
Based on all that you know about the pest, you’ll need to apply the method that’s most effective while being the least harmful to the applicator and the environment. Monitor the results. If you discover that the method was ineffective, then move on to applying the next sensible method.
This is an essential part of integrated pest control. You need to monitor every process and evaluate how effective any action has been. Because this approach aims to be highly precise and targeted, constant monitoring is essential to know the effectiveness of any step as well as any adjustments you need to make.
The Advantages of Integrated Pest Control
There is increasing awareness of the dangers of pest control chemicals both to humans and livestock. With this, there has been an increased search for safer, yet effective, pest control methods. As explained above, integrated pest control is a method that embraces all others. It employs 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.
- Being a precise and highly targeted process that eliminates only the target pests and leaves 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 the residues of pest control chemicals.
- Reducing the health risks associated with the application of pest control chemicals.
- Reducing cases of pest resistance to pesticides due to repeated use.
- Saving money by reducing the need for pesticide treatments.
The Disadvantages of Integrated Pest Control
For everything that has advantages, it’s likely that there are disadvantages, too. Some of the disadvantages of integrated pest control include it requiring:
- The involvement of the practitioner in every aspect of the process.
- A lot of knowledge since you need to closely study and monitor every target pest.
- Additional resources to take the place of insecticides.
Now we’ve looked at this subject closely, including the process involved, the advantages, and the disadvantages. It’s pretty clear that this approach is the best way to go, especially after considering the health concerns associated with pest control chemicals.
The advantages of IPC far outweigh the disadvantages. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supports and promotes the use of this method. That says a lot about its effectiveness.