Frequently Asked Questions

What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?

IPM is an approach to solving pest problems by applying our knowledge about pests to prevent them from damaging crops, harming animals, infesting buildings or otherwise interfering with our livelihood or enjoyment of life. IPM means responding to pest problems with the most effective, least-risk option.

Under IPM, actions are taken to control pests only when their numbers are likely to exceed acceptable levels. Any action taken is designed to target the troublesome pest, and limit the impact on other organisms and the environment.

Applying pesticides to crops, animals, buildings or landscapes on a routine basis, regardless of need, is not IPM. Applications of pesticides are always the last resort in an IPM program.

What are pesticide risks?

The greatest risks are those to humans who are exposed to toxic concentrations of pesticides. According to the World Health Organization, more than 3 million people are severely sickened and 220,000 die from pesticides each year worldwide. In the U.S. alone, 110,000 people are poisoned by pesticides annually. These are “acute” poisonings, with symptoms occurring shortly after exposure, and do not include other long-term effects which may include cancer, birth defects or other disorders.

As many as 60 million to 70 million birds are killed each year in the US from pesticide poisonings. Fish and other wildlife are also at risk from pesticide misuse and accidents. Both wild bees and honey bees are essential for pollination of many crops, and many are lost to pesticide exposure. More than one-third of calls to animal poison centers result from pesticide exposure to pets.

Pests can also become resistant to pesticides, increasing control costs, crop losses or other pest damage. Many natural enemies of pests are killed by pesticides, freeing pests from these natural controls.

Pesticides are powerful medicines for pest problems. It’s not smart, effective or affordable to take medicines when you‘re not sick. Eating right and staying fit is great, low risk medicine for your health. Using IPM to prevent pest problems is the best solution for a healthy environment for everyone.

Are all pesticides bad?

Most pesticide problems are caused by a small number of the pesticides available today. Many low risk pesticides are available, and more are being developed each year from both naturally occurring and synthetic materials. However, pesticide use without regard to need or risk is always a poor choice, and rarely solves pest problems.

How does IPM reduce risks?

IPM reduces risk by reducing overall pesticide use, using least risk pesticides when there is a demonstrated need, and taking special protective measures to reduce pesticide contact with living organisms and the environment.

How does IPM differ from Organic?

IPM allows the use of pesticides, fertilizers and other materials made from synthetic materials when necessary. Organic programs restrict pesticides to those made from natural materials. Pesticides used in organic programs can also have harmful effects on humans, animals and the environment, and must be used carefully and only when needed. IPM strategies can also help organic programs reduce risks.