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Science-based gardening information for Colorado communities from CSU Extension, Denver Botanic Gardens, and Green Industries of Colorado.

1461 – IPM & PHC: What Are They?   arrow

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a strategy to manage pests using a variety of control methods in order to keep pests at, or under, a reasonable threshold. There are a few basic steps to follow when using IPM.

  1. Monitor pests and properly identify pests. Sticky traps are a great tool for pest monitoring and identification.
  2. Find the source of the pest problem and see if anything can be done to eliminate the problem. For example, if flies are coming in the house, replace the screen on the window.
  3. If intervention is necessary, consider a variety of options to get the pest population at or below your tolerance threshold.
  4. Monitor how well your IPM plan is working by keeping records. Adjust your IPM plan as you progress with your pest management goals.
  5. Educate others who might be affected by the IPM plans your have put in place (family, roommates, neighbors, office co-workers, etc.).

Pests can be managed using a variety of control options such as cultural, mechanical/physical, biological, and chemical controls.

Cultural control is using the biotic or abiotic features of your home or garden to their advantage. Examples of cultural control are choosing a plant species that grows well in the given area, planting in a good location so the roots can grow well, crop rotations, and mulching around plants to exclude weeds from growing. Sometimes Plant Health Care will be used to refer to the cultural things we do to improve plant health. For more information on “Plant Health Care” refer to message number 1739.

Mechanical and physical controls involve using barriers or other exclusion methods to prevent pests from certain areas. Examples of mechanical and physical control are hand-pulling weeds, setting traps for animals or insects, installing barriers to keep pests out, and sealing cracks and crevices of structures.

Biological control a method that uses natural pest enemies to control pests. Common examples of biological control are a cats that catch and eat mice, ladybugs that eat aphids, and frogs and spiders that catch and eat flying insects.

When using IPM, chemical control should only be used when the other non-toxic control options have been exhausted. If you use pesticides, choose the least toxic one to get the job done and follow the label instructions.

For “Plant Health Care” refer to message number 1739.

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