Integrated Pest Management
What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pests and their associated damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. One goal of an IPM program is to use pesticides more judiciously than in the past to reduce the risk of pesticide exposure.
The key elements of IPM include:
- Knowledge of pest biology and behavior
- Mechanical control
- Cultural control
- Minimized/low toxicity pesticide applications only when necessary
How do IPM programs work?
IPM is not a single pest control method but, rather, a series of pest management evaluations, decisions and controls. IPM essentially follows a four-tiered approach. The four steps include:
- Set Action Thresholds
Before taking any pest control action, IPM first sets an action threshold, a point at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that pest control action must be taken. Sighting a single pest does not always mean control is needed. The level at which pests will either become a public health, structural, or economic threat is critical to guide future pest control decisions.
- Monitor and Identify Pest
Monitoring is an important aspect of pest management. To effectively control pests you must know what kind of pest is present and where it appears to be harboring. Not all living organisms require control. Many organisms are innocuous, and some are even beneficial. IPM programs work to monitor for pests and identify them accurately, so that appropriate control decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds. This monitoring and identification removes the possibility that pesticides will be used when they are not really needed or that the wrong kind of pesticide will be used.
- Prevention and Exclusion
Prevention is the first line of defense in pest control. It is pertinent to employ good sanitation, maintenance, design, storage, and organizational practices to deny pests: entry, food, water, and shelter. These control measures can be effective, cost-efficient, and present little to no risk to people or the environment.
Once monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is required, and preventive methods are no longer effective or available, IPM programs then evaluate the proper control method both for effectiveness and risk. Effective, less risky pest controls are chosen first, including highly targeted chemicals, such as pheromones to disrupt pest mating, or mechanical control, such as trapping or baiting. If further monitoring, identifications and action thresholds indicate that less risky controls are not working, then additional pest control methods would be employed, such as targeted spraying of pesticides. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides is a last resort.
Why practice IPM?
- A proactive approach
IPM is a proactive rather than reactive approach to pest management. It gives facilities more options for pest management; it is less disruptive to day-to-day operations than the conventional blanket or calendar spray approach; and it can be more cost effective.
- Reduced chemical use
Implementing an IPM program will result in less frequent use of chemical sprays and more effective use of the sprays that are applied. This has flow-on benefits such as a reduction in the amount of time pest control operators spend spraying and fewer occupational health and safety issues. Better management of chemicals reduces the risk of pesticide resistance developing, which gives the university and pest control operators more options in the long term.
- Better for the environment
The reduction in pesticide use also results in fewer environmental concerns, for example groundwater contamination, public ordinance problems and run-off on to neighboring properties. This reduction provides better protection for the students, staff, and faculty of Indiana University.
What is being done at Indiana University?
Pest management at Indiana University is decentralized with numerous contracted vendors serving various university and Greek establishments. Some vendors practice IPM methods more than others. In an effort to bring standardization to pest management practices, IU’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety and Purchasing have created a model pest management contract for establishments that adhere to these Integrated Pest Management (IPM) standards.
To obtain a copy of this model contract for your contracted pest servcies , please contact one of the EHS staff members above.