Green Pest Management is not simply a matter of substituting “good” pesticides for “bad” pesticides. Too often we want an easy solution, a “magic bullet” that will solve all our problems in one shot. Unfortunately, pest management is complicated, and we cannot always expect a simple solution to pest problems. Integrated Pest Management or IPM is based on the fact that combined strategies for pest management are more effective in the long run than a single strategy. A good pest manager considers as many options as possible and tries to combine them into an effective program. The best pest managers have ideas for new and creative ways to solve pest problems. Wherever possible, IPM takes a preventive approach by identifying and removing, to the degree feasible, the basic causes of the problem rather than merely attacking the symptoms (the pests). This prevention-oriented approach is also best achieved by integrating a number of treatment strategies.
Least hazardous to human health
It is particularly important around children to take the health hazards of various strategies into consideration.
Example: Aerosol sprays can kill cockroaches; however, they can also pose potential hazards to humans because the pesticide volatilizes in the air, increasing the likelihood of respiratory or lung exposure of students and staff. In addition, aerosol sprays may leave residues on surfaces handled by students and teachers. When cockroach baits are used instead, the pesticide is confined to a much smaller area, and if applied correctly, the bait will be out of reach of students and staff. Baits volitilize very little so lung exposure is not a problem.
Least Disruptive of Natural Controls
In landscape settings, you want to try to avoid killing off the natural enemies that aid in controlling pest organisms. Unfortunately and for a number of reasons, natural enemies are often more easily killed by pesticides than are the pests. When choosing treatment strategies, always consider how the strategy might affect natural enemies. When choosing a pesticide, try to use one that has less effect on natural enemies. For help in determining this, see the resources listed in Appendix G.
Selecting Treatment Strategies
Once the IPM decision-making process is in place and monitoring indicates a pest treatment is needed, the choice of specific strategies can be made. Choose strategies that are:
- least hazardous to human health
- least disruptive of natural controls in landscape situations
- least toxic to non-target organisms other than natural controls
- most likely to be permanent and prevent recurrence of the pest problem
- easiest to carry out safely and effectively
- most cost-effective in the short- and long-term
- appropriate to the site and maintenance system
Least Toxic to Non-Target Organisms
The more selective the control, the less harm there will be to non-target organisms.
Example: Aphid populations in trees often grow to high numbers because ants harvest the honeydew (sweet exudate) produced by the aphids, and protect them from their natural enemies. The ants that protect these aphid pests are often beneficial in other circumstances, aerating the soil and helping to decompose plant and animal debris. By excluding the ants from the tree with sticky bands around the trunk, it is often possible to achieve adequate suppression of the aphids without harming the ant populations.
Most Likely to be Permanent and Prevent Recurrence of the Problem
Finding treatments that meet this criteria is at the heart of a successful IPM program because these controls work without extra human effort, costs, or continual inputs of other resources. These treatments often include changing the design of the landscape, the structure, or the system to avoid pest problems.