What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach to solving pest problems by applying science-based knowledge about pests to prevent them from harming plants, landscapes, buildings, or people while minimizing risks to people and the environment.

There are four key components of IPM:

  1. Mechanical and physical control: this strategy uses tactics to remove or block a pest, like a mousetrap or mulch that smothers weeds.
  2. Cultural control: these methods include choosing pest-resistant plant cultivars, improving soils, and fertilizing to support healthy plants.
  3. Biological control: these strategies protect, conserve and introduce natural enemies – like predators and parasites—to keep pest populations in balance and prevent significant damage.
  4. Chemical control: this strategy includes conventional and organic products to reduce damaging pest populations. Effective products are applied using techniques that minimize harm to people, non-target organisms, and the environment.

IPM programs combine a variety of management practices for greater effectiveness, including:

  • Monitor plant health for early detection of pests.
  • Maintain scouting records with calendars and maps of pest outbreaks.
  • Assess pest population levels to determine damage potential and treatment thresholds.
  • Identify, conserve, introduce and protect biological control organisms.
  • Optimize timing of control measures based on season, pest life cycle, and environmental conditions.
  • Select pesticides (organic or conventional) with the low human risk that: are short-lived in the environment, are proven to effectively control the specific pest or pathogen, pose little threat to natural enemies and non-target species, and are rotated with pesticides of different resistance classes.
  • Choose equipment, nozzle, and application techniques to optimize control, reduce pesticide quantity and minimize drift to prevent off-target effects.
  • Review and evaluate treatment efficacy; modify as needed

Show All Answers

1. What are pesticides?
2. What is Prince George's County Department of Parks and Recreation doing to maintain athletic fields?
3. What are pests and why must they be managed?
4. What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
5. When and where are pesticides used?
6. Who can I contact for additional information about IPM?