What is Integrated Pest Management?
Integrated Pest Management is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as "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 mange pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment."
How are pests controlled ?
To reduce the impact of pest control IPM utilizes several practices. The first practice is to monitor pest populations and establish a threshold for pest numbers. For example, if only a few aphids are present beneficial insects such as ladybugs or aphid lions may keep the number of insects in check.
The second practice is prevention. Planting trees or shrub varieties that are less susceptible to insect infestation is helpful. Utilizing mechanical methods to prevent or control insects is another method. Examples are installing a sticky barrier around tree trunks to prevent crawling insects from moving into tree trunks or branches or pruning out branches with mistletoe or fireblight.
The third practice is utilizing control methods that evaluate both controlling the pest and the risk of the control method. Less risky choices are made first and include biochemical pesticides like sex pheromones that interfere with mating, attractants to trap pests. Another method is microbial pesticides. These include bacterium, fungus, virus or protozoa as the active ingredient.
An effective example of a microbial pesticide is Bt. or Baciilus thringiensis. Bt's are bacterium designed to target specific insect larvae. Bt produce a protein that binds to the digestive system and causes the insect larvae to starve. The advantage of microbial pesticides is they affect only the target specie and do not harm beneficial insects or the environment.
When these less risky control methods are not working effectively then other control methods may be needed. We recommend using pesticides with the lowest toxicity level available. Some effective insecticides are produced from plant materials toxic to insects. Drench or injection of pesticides into the soil is preferable to broadcast spraying into the canopy of trees and the surrounding environment. These methods utilize a systemic insecticide which transports the material through the trees vascular system to the leaves. When insects feed on the leaves they are killed by the pesticide.
Contact a Certified Arborist at TreePro for help in identifying and treating insect and disease problems with the minimum impact to your home and the environment.
Image Credit: Trenchard, Peter. CAES. "The Asian Longhorned Beetle and Connecticut." http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2697&q=421754&deepNav_GID=1631