INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the judicious use and integration of various pest control tactics in the context of the associated environment of the pest in ways that compliment and facilitate the biological and other natural controls of pests to meet economic, public health, and environmental goals. Wherever applicable, IPM uses scouting, pest trapping, pest resistant plant varieties, sanitation, various cultural control methods, physical and mechanical controls, biological controls, and precise timing and application of any needed pesticides.
With IPM, the decision to use
pesticides is made when an action threshold for a pest is reached
and no other alternative management methods are available that
will provide effective control. When pesticides are needed, the
safest and most effective materials should be selected for use.
The goals of IPM are to achieve the effective management of pests
in the safest manner.
Questions to Ask
Before Good Pest Management Decisions Are Made
Good pest management decisions
can be made only after answering questions such as:
- What pests are present, and
in what numbers and stages of development?
- What conditions exist that
may increase or decrease pest problems?
- What natural enemies of the
pests, such as parasites, predators, and diseases, are present
that my play an important role in control?
- What amount and type of damage
is being caused or may soon be caused by pests?
- What is the stage of development,
condition, and value of the crop?
- What is the potential for
economical injury? How much damage is tolerable? Has the action
threshold been reached?
- What is the history and severity
of previous infestations at the site? How were those infestations
managed? What were the results?
- What pest management options
are available, and how do the advantages and disadvantages of
each apply to the situation?
- If alternatives are not available,
is a pesticide treatment justified for the situation? If so,
what is the material of choice?
- If a pesticide is not justified,
what approaches, if any, should be taken?
Field scouting, insect trapping,
and action thresholds can be used to provide much of the information
needed to help answer most of these questions.
The action threshold is the
level of pest infestation at which treatment is justified to keep
an increasing pest population from causing economical losses.
Fields should not be treated when pest populations are below the
action threshold. Applying a pesticide treatment for such infestations
would not be an economic or qualitative benefit.
The action threshold is a key
IPM decision-making tool. Thresholds are based on considerable
amounts of research and field experience. If an action threshold
is approached, but not reached, do not apply a pesticide at that
time. Instead, rescout the field within a few days to determine
the status of the infestation. Pest populations can decline naturally
due to mortality from natural enemies and unfavorable weather
conditions. Also, many pests, such as caterpillars, change from
an active feeding (larva) to a non-feeding stage (pupa) during
their development. Such changes will often produce a natural decline
in infestations as pupation occurs. Precise timing of needed pesticide
applications is extremely important to achieve good pest control.
Pest monitoring, action thresholds, and a a good knowledge of
the life cycles of pests are used to determine the best timing
of needed treatments.
PEST CONTROL METHODS
There are many methods that
can be used to help manage pests. Most often they can be categorized
as either chemical or non-chemical methods. Many non-chemical
approaches are used to either prevent infestations from initially
occurring, or to minimize the severity of infestations. When non-chemical
approaches such as the use of pest resistant varieties, cultural,
physical, mechanical, and biological controls are inadequate,
chemical control may be justified.
The aims of IPM are to integrate
or incorporate all appropriate methods into an approach that provides
needed pest control in the safest manner and only use chemicals
as a last resort.
Cultural controls exploit the
factors related to growing the crop, that also may negate or minimize
the occurrences of pests. Some examples include: disease-free
seed; good sanitation and the destruction of plant residue to
limit the spread of pests; optimum growing conditions to minimize
stress on the crop; early or late planting and harvest dates to
avoid pest losses; crop rotations; and living mulches for weed
Physical controls utilize some
physical component of the environment, such as temperature, humidity,
or light to the detriment of pests... Mechanical controls involve
the use of equipment of manual operations to exclude or disrupt
the life cycle of pests. Barriers that exclude pests include fencing,
row covers, and plastic mulches. Disruptive operations include
plowing, discing, hoeing, and cultivation.
Physical and Mechanical Controls
Biological control is the use
of living organisms which function as parasites, predators, or
pathogens to help control pests. Such natural enemies are responsible
for keeping many pests and potential pests in check. Unfortunately,
many pesticides are very detrimental to natural enemy survival.
To help promote biocontrol, pesticides should be used sparingly
and only when needed. Wherever possible, chemicals that are the
least toxic to natural enemies should be chosen. Some pathogens
(disease-causing organisms) have been commercially developed for
use as biological insecticides. The best know example is the bacterium,
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is effective for controlling
certain caterpillars and beetles. Several Bt products are on the
Bt is formulated as a bacterial
spore powder or a flowable concentrate which should be mixed with
water and applied as a spray. The performance of Bt products against
caterpillar pests is usually increased when mixed with a spreader-sticker.
Bt has no contact insecticidal activity. To be effective, the
spores must be ingested by susceptible insects. Good coverage
of treated foliage will increase the likelihood of spore ingestion.
Once the spores are ingested by susceptible insects, toxins are
produced in the gut, feeding ceases within minutes, and death
occurs up to 72 hours later. Bts are often excellent choices for
pest control because they are very safe to humans, other animals,
and beneficial insects.
Planting resistant varieties
can prevent or minimize pest infestations and injury...
Pesticides are chemicals that
are used to destroy, repel, or otherwise lower pest infestations
to protect crops from damage. Though pesticides pose many potential
risks, they also provide the following important advantages and
- Pesticides are readily available
and easy to use.
- Where resistance is not a
problem, pesticides are generally highly effective for controlling
- Pesticide treatments can
be rapidly implemented as needed with minimal lag time.
- Pesticides can be used over
large areas to control large populations of pests.
- Pesticide treatments are
often cost effective, especially if the alternatives require
large increases in human labor.
- No effective, reliable, non-chemical
alternatives are available for many pests and chemical pesticides
are the last resort.
Pesticides are used in IPM
programs when no effective alternatives are available to keep
pest populations from reaching damaging levels. The emphasis is
to maximize the benefits and advantages that pesticides offer
while minimizing any potential risks.
Whenever a pesticide treatment
is needed, selection of the chemical should be consistent with
the pesticide label and all state and federal laws and regulations.
Additional considerations include: effectiveness against the target
organism, compatibility with the host plant, effects on beneficial
organisms, degree of environmental and user safety, and cost.
Wherever possible, use a material that is least toxic to humans
and other non-target organisms, and is least likely to contaminate
ground and surface waters.
WHY MINIMIZE PESTICIDE USE?
During the years following
World War II, many new synthetic pesticides became available for
use. They were widely used and quickly became the standard tools
for combating pest problems. Pesticides were easy to use, inexpensive,
and initially provided rapid and highly effective control of a
wide variety of pests. However, several problems and limitations
have now become apparent by relying solely on pesticides. Some
of the problems include: pest resistance to pesticides; increased
costs; toxicity to fish, wildlife, beneficial natural enemies
of pests, and other non-target organisms; concerns about human
health and safety; ground water contamination; and overall environmental
PROBLEMS WITH PESTICIDE USE
In an attempt to achieve better
or total pest control, resistance problems have increased because
pesticides are applied more frequently and at higher dosage rates.
These tactics have resulted in increased selection pressure. Naturally
resistant individuals in a pest population are able to survive
pesticide treatments. The survivors breed and pass on the resistance
trait to their offspring. With each passing generation, the pest
population becomes more difficult to control with the same pesticides
as compared with earlier generations. Reducing pesticide use and
alternating among classes of pesticides with different modes of
action can help to lessen the possibility of pest resistance.
Managing pest resistance is very important in helping to prolong
the effective life of needed pesticides.
Toxicity to Natural Enemies and Other Non-target Organisms
Natural enemies of pest species
can be very helpful in keeping pest populations at lower levels.
These beneficial organisms are often other insects that serve
as predators, parasites, or competitors to the detriment of the
pest species. For example, gypsy moths do not reach pest levels
every year throughout the Northeast because many different natural
enemies help to keep them in check. Unfortunately, many broad-spectrum,
non-selective pesticides are more detrimental to numerous beneficial
species than to the pests. The use of such pesticides often causes
a resurgence in pest populations and at a much faster rate compared
to the natural enemies. Without the natural controls, primary
(established) and secondary (new) pests are often free to reach
damaging levels at faster rates. An increase in pest levels usually
results in additional pesticide treatments, which further depresses
or eliminates the natural enemies and further encourages the potential
for pest resistance. Using pesticides as little as possible and
selecting effective alternatives that are less toxic to non-target
organisms, will increase natural enemy survival, and overall effectiveness
of pest control.
Public Health and Environmental Concerns
The public has become increasingly
concerned about the use of pesticides and the possible adverse
effects on human health, wildlife, ground water, and overall environmental
quality. Pesticide exposure from drift to non-target areas; contamination
of ground and surface waters; and residues on food are topics
of concern to the general public. Applicators should be especially
concerned because they may have the highest potential for exposure
and thus, may have the greatest health risks. All applicators
must be sensitive to public concerns about pesticide use and apply
materials only in a safe and judicious manner. This is particularly
true for vegetable growers who are often viewed by the general
public as being responsible for providing safe and nutritious
food. If pesticides are misused, this trust is violated, resulting
in negative public relations and serious liable.
Cost of Pesticides
The cost of developing new
pesticides has risen at an increasingly rapid rate. Many pesticides
are petroleum based products and their costs increase with oil
prices. Government regulations and more stringent registration
requirements have also slowed the rate of development and increased
the costs of new products. Concerns about potential product liability
have discouraged companies from introducing new products. Increasing
problems with pest resistance have likewise resulted in shorter
market lives for many pesticides than in the past. All of these
factors result in higher costs and potentially lower profits for
chemical companies. In turn, this leads to higher prices for pesticide
users. Many pesticides are very expensive. When including the
costs of fuel and labor, every pesticide application made by the
grower is a substantial expense. Imagine the savings a grower
could realize if even one unnecessary pesticide application can
be eliminated without increased damage to the crop. Maintaining
the economic viability of agriculture is also one of the goals
of Integrated Pest Management.
Reprinted from Northeast
Sweet Corn Production and Integrated Pest Management Manual. 95-18.
Roger G. Adams and Jennifer C. Clark, eds.
The information in this
material is for educational purposes. The recommendations contained
are based on the best available knowledge at the time of printing.
Any reference to commercial products, trade or brand names is
for information only, and no endorsement or approval is intended.
The Cooperative Extension system does not guarantee or warrant
the standard of any product referenced or imply approval of the
product to the exclusion of others which also may be available.All
agrochemicals/pesticides listed are registered for suggested uses
in accordance with federal and Connecticut state laws and regulations
as of the date of printing. If the information does not agree
with current labeling, follow the label instructions. The label
is the law.Warning! Agrochemicals/pesticides are dangerous. Read
and follow all instructions and safety precautions on labels.
Carefully handle and store agrochemicals/pesticides in originally
labeled containers immediately in a safe manner and place. Contact
the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection for current
regulations.The user of this information assumes all risks for
personal injury or property damage.Issued in furtherance of Cooperative
Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation
with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kirklyn M. Kerr, Director,
Cooperative Extension System, The University of Connecticut, Storrs.
The Connecticut Cooperative Extension System offers its programs
to persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age
or disability and is an equal opportunity employer.