Switching to Integrated Pest Management

Lawn cared for by IPMWhen you turn your landscape over to an integrated pest management (IPM) system there are some things that you need to know and expect.

First if you have been treating the old way of spraying your plants routinely with broad-spectrum insecticides, switching to the more environmentally sensitive integrated pest management can take time to show results. This is because of the reduction of predators that will have taken place.

You can expect that in some circumstances you may get a temporary build up of pests until predator populations recover. Don’t let this panic you; you may need to do a few more targeted treatments in the beginning. Long term however, as pests and predators are managed, using integrated pest management will lead to fewer problems as the balance of nature returns.

Secondly your integrated pest management technician has to be your partner, and you may need to supply, and ask for, information.

Case in point. I have a property that I have been working on for three years now, carefully choosing treatments and timing so as to control pests and maintain a good predator balance. This property has always maintained a healthy population of lacebug on a few Azaleas that are close to the woods, even with spring and fall oil treatments. I was there yesterday and saw a note on the door from a mosquito control company. Well the reason for the lacebug became obvious. The note had the chemical used to control mosquitoes and sure enough it was bifenthrin, which is a notorious killer of predators. See how one thing that you do can cancel the efforts of your integrated pest management program.

Many customers also treat pests themselves between visits. It is important to know what and how to treat so that your IPM program is not interrupted. It is fine to go out and treat, say for Japanese beetle, but you should learn to keep with the program. Don’t run out and treat the whole yard with anything that the sales person says kills Japanese beetle, but treat only the affected plants with the right chemical.

Your IPM technician should be able to help you choose treatments, and it is also a good idea to let them know what you are using. Resistance to chemicals is one of the things we work hard to avoid, and if you are using the same pesticide over and over again then I show up and use the same thing we could both be contributing to this problem.

The use of chemicals is just one part of good pest management, other things include but are not limited to watering, pruning, fertilizing and mulching.

Ask questions and if your IPM technician is bothered by them then find someone who isn’t. A good IPM technician should be happy to talk with you; a well-informed customer is a good customer and not something to be afraid of.

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