The Basics of Pest Management

Pests are organisms that harm desirable plants in our landscapes and fields, or damage homes, crops, or wildland or natural areas. They may also transmit diseases to people or animals.

Pest control methods include mechanical, cultural, biological, and chemical management. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) uses all these tools and strategies to reduce economic and environmental risk from pests. For more information, click the link provided to proceed.

The goal of IPM is to manage pests rather than eradicating them. This is done by monitoring and scouting to determine the type of pest, its population levels and environmental conditions to assess whether any action is required. IPM programs use a variety of treatment strategies including mechanical, cultural, biological and chemical controls. These can be used individually or in combination.

IPM takes a long-term view of the garden and considers all of the organisms in it: the plants, pests and beneficials. It recognizes that not all organisms need control and often those that do require more tolerance than is typically given. For example, a clover growing in the lawn is viewed as a nuisance by many, but as a legume it provides nitrogen to the soil and its flowers attract pollinators. The woodpecker drilling holes in the trunk of a peach tree may be considered a pest, but it is removing insects that could do much more damage to the fruit.

To avoid unnecessary pesticide treatments, monitoring and scouting must be conducted regularly. This is especially important when using preventive methods. The goal is to identify pests early, before the population becomes so high that economic damage or aesthetic injury occurs and action is needed.

An action threshold is set and when it has been reached, the proper control method is implemented. The less risky pest control methods are employed first, with more toxic pesticides being used only when the lesser risky controls do not provide adequate results.

IPM is an excellent way to reduce the reliance on synthetic pesticides, and it works! It will never eliminate all pest problems but with a comprehensive plan, pests are more likely to be controlled before damage occurs.

The District of Columbia Pesticide Education and Control Act of 2012 requires that all District Agency, District owned and occupied properties, Schools and Child Occupied Facilities have an IPM program in place before any applications of pesticides are made. Contact us for information on putting an IPM plan in place at your site.

Pest Identification

Identifying the pests that invade your facility is an important step in developing a plan for control. In addition to the direct damage they cause, many pests also carry diseases in their fur, droppings, saliva or feet that can have negative health implications for humans who come into contact with them. This can be particularly harmful in a workplace where food is prepared and served, such as a restaurant or an event venue.

To identify a pest, start by examining its physical appearance. Many pests have distinguishing features, such as color, size, the number of legs or antennae and markings. You can also look up photos of the pest to determine its species. If you cannot tell which type of pest you are dealing with from its color alone, try counting its legs. Insects have six legs while arachnids, such as spiders and mites, have eight or more. The pest’s body may also be segmented, with the head, thorax or abdomen, or it might be tubular.

Another way to identify a pest is to examine its eggs. Different species of insects lay different kinds of eggs, and it’s important to be able to distinguish between the eggs so that you can select an appropriate insecticide. Insects must also be identified to order, since biological insecticides like Bacillus thuringiensis have specific activity against certain orders of insects, but not others.

Pests that cause damage are usually easy to identify, but non-living causes of plant disease and damage can sometimes be mistaken for pests. For example, the same kind of damage to a lawn from millipedes or green June beetle grubs may also be caused by soil conditions, air pollution, excess fertilization and watering or mowing too closely.

The last important step in identifying pests is to compare the pest you are seeing to known examples. Look for online photo collections and reputable insect identification guides to ensure that you are able to positively identify the pest in question. If you are still unsure, consult with a pest management professional. They will be able to provide you with more accurate information about the pest and the best methods for its removal without using harmful chemicals.

Pest Monitoring

Identifying pests and their damage is the first step in effectively managing them. Inspect regularly for both pests and their signs such as droppings, feces, frass (excrement), shells, and scurrying behavior. Using a magnifying glass and a flashlight can aid in locating harborage areas where pests live or seek shelter. Inspectors should also be equipped with a tool that allows them to reach behind and beneath equipment for inspection such as an extendable mirror or telescoping handle.

Define Pest Management Objectives

Clearly defined objectives help to guide the choice and application of pest control methods. They should consider the environmental factors that limit or encourage pest populations, as well as cost, safety, and social and economic consequences of control measures. Having clearly defined pest management objectives helps reduce overuse of chemical controls.

Conduct Regular Monitoring

Structural pests, including weeds, insects, and rodents can cause a variety of problems in agricultural settings as well as in commercial buildings, schools, hospitals, public health facilities, housing, and public and private landscapes. Integrated pest management strategies apply to all of these environments.

Managing structural pests requires a combination of physical, mechanical, and biological control techniques. Physical controls include the use of screens, caulking, and plastering to exclude pests from entry points or to make it difficult for them to move around a site. Biological control involves the introduction of natural enemies or pathogenic microorganisms that injure or consume pests or cause diseases that reduce their population sizes. Chemical control uses natural or synthetic chemicals to kill pests and can be used in combination with other control methods, as needed.

Performing regular monitoring and inspecting for pests can help prevent them from reaching critical levels and necessitating the use of more aggressive controls such as the spraying of toxic chemicals. The use of monitoring and scouting can also provide important information on the effectiveness of control methods, such as their timing, dosages, and application rates. This information can be used to evaluate and refine pest control practices, reducing the dependence on chemical treatments while providing effective pest control.

Pest Control

Pests are a nuisance when they invade our homes and business environments, especially in places like food preparation areas or retail facilities. They can contaminate food or make asthma and allergies worse, as well as damage property. Pest control is a service that eliminates or manages unwanted creatures, such as rodents, cockroaches, ants and bed bugs.

Integrated pest management uses methods to prevent or reduce pests without harming humans, pets or beneficial insects. It starts with monitoring pest populations, then identifies the most likely cause of the problem and selects control measures accordingly. Control measures can include cultural, physical or chemical means of eliminating or repelling pests. Depending on the type of pest, some controls may be more effective than others. Generally, the least toxic options are preferred.

Physical pest control involves trapping and killing or removing the pests from the environment. It can also include putting up barriers and ‘pest proofing’ premises to stop them returning or entering in the first place. These types of controls can be very effective if used appropriately, but they are best used in conjunction with other forms of pest control.

Chemical pesticides are one of the most common forms of pest control. They can be in the form of aerosol sprays, dusts or baits and work by targeting specific pest species, disrupting their nervous systems and either killing them or preventing them from reproducing. Ideally, these chemicals should only be used by trained professionals in order to minimise the risks to human health and the environment.

It is important to remember that even if a pest is considered a nuisance, it does have an important part in the ecosystem it inhabits and removing the pest would not be good for this ecosystem. A more holistic approach is to understand how the pest fits into the bigger picture and try to find a balance that makes everyone happy. In this way, we can all enjoy the beauty of the outdoors without destroying it. If a pest is seriously causing problems, however, it may be necessary to remove it completely.