The Basics of Pest Management

Pest management includes preventing and controlling unwanted organisms that harm crops, natural resources, or human health and well-being. It is a continuous cycle of monitoring, decision-making, and action. Pests are undesirable organisms, such as insects, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, weeds, or vertebrate animals that interfere with agricultural production, food stores, lawns, gardens, homes, or other structures, devalue natural and wild resources, compete with humans for food, water, or shelter, and/or alter terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems EPA, 2014.

Preventive methods reduce the conditions that favor pest establishment and growth. They include removing debris, regularly cleaning areas where they are likely to live, and preventing seed dispersal. These methods can be economical and environmentally responsible, avoiding costly control measures at the time of an outbreak.

Scouting and monitoring can help identify pests, their numbers, and the damage they cause. This information can determine whether or not the problem has reached a threshold level that warrants control. It also helps select and implement the most effective control methods.

Biological pest management London uses natural enemies to reduce pest populations, such as parasitoids and predators. These are organisms that ordinarily occur in nature and can be purchased or released to manage pests. They often have a lag between the increase in the pest population and the increase in the number of its natural enemies, but they can be effective at reducing pest numbers under some circumstances.

Mechanical or physical controls use traps, barriers, screens, and other means to limit pest movement and access to food and water sources. They may also involve the modification of a pest’s environment, such as using pheromones or juvenile hormones to disrupt reproduction. Chemical controls use synthetic or organic substances to kill or suppress pests, such as insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and bactericides. They can be very effective if used correctly and are selected for the pest species involved. However, they can also harm non-target organisms and require careful handling and application.

Insecticides are the most common and widely used pest control agents. Several types of insecticides are available that target different groups of insects, and new products are constantly being developed. The best insecticides are those that are designed to work on the targeted pests with the fewest side effects to people and the environment.

The most effective IPM programs combine preventive and control strategies and are guided by scientific knowledge of the pests, their habitat, ecology, and behavior. Technical oversight provides an objective evaluation of program activities and effectiveness, ensuring that they comply with local, State, and Federal pesticide regulations. They also consider economic, environmental, and social factors when making decisions about pest management. With this knowledge, farmers can develop successful management practices that minimize the need for harmful chemicals and maximize the benefits of agriculture and gardening. For example, growers can prevent the spread of Japanese beetle by planting zinnias, which attract and concentrate the insects so that they can be more easily hand-squashed. They can also use a pheromone lure or other strategy to keep aphids from infesting rose bushes.