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Microsoft word - conneticutfact sheet 4 - integrated pest management.doc
Integrated Pest Management and
Biological Controls for the Homeowner
Does the word “pest” bring to mind your little sister or a nosy neighbor? A pest, by
definition, is any unwanted organism. In garden, landscape or lawn management,
insects, animals, bacteria, fungi, viruses and weeds may all be pests. Integrated pest
management, or IPM, is a pest management strategy that has received increased
attention in recent years. As a homeowner, you can practice IPM on your own property,
whether you are growing and maintaining trees and shrubs, turfgrass, herbaceous
perennials, flowering annuals, or a fruit and vegetable garden.
What is IPM? What is IPM?
IPM is a decision-making process that uses biological, chemical and cultural practices to
manage pest problems in the production and maintenance of plants, in a way that
minimizes risks to human health, society and the environment.
• Biological control is the use of naturally occurring predators, parasites and pathogens
to manage pests. A common example is using lady beetles to reduce aphid populations before they cause plant damage.
• Chemical control is the use of commercially available pesticides to protect plant
• Cultural control involves selecting the appropriate plant material for the growing
conditions on your property, and then maintaining the plant’s health through proper fertilization, irrigation and pruning practices. Healthy plants are less susceptible to insect and disease attack.
The most common misconception about IPM is that it does not include chemical pesticides, which would be an “organic” approach. This is not true. IPM may involve the use of chemical pesticides, but in a way that minimizes the overall reliance on them as the only pest control method. A more intelligent use of these products reduces their negative impacts on the applicator and the overall environment. An example of the IPM approach is to spot spray only the problem plants, rather than treating the entire area. Homeowners taking care of their property, whether it is the lawn, landscaping or gardens, can have a significant impact on the overall health of the landscape. Many people may not be aware of simple cultural practices that can prevent or reduce their
most troublesome pest problems without using chemicals. The following information will
assist with pest control, while also protecting the environment and water quality.
Accurate pest identification is needed for successful pest management, especially if you
want to use biological control organisms that are host specific. First, determine if there is
really a problem. Most insects have no negative effect on plants and many provide
important services like pollination. Frequent inspections or scouting of valuable plants,
once every one to two weeks, will enable you to catch pest problems early when they
can be more easily treated. If you cannot diagnose the problem, have a sample
analyzed for correct identification. For example, it is completely ineffective to treat
unusual leaf spots with a fungicide if bacteria, insects, or poor environmental conditions
are actually causing the problem.
Your local Cooperative Extension office or Agricultural Experiment Station can help you
make proper identification of your pest problems.
Where Do I Begin? – Cultural Practices Where Do I Begin? Cultural Practices
IPM begins with the establishment of the proper growing environment. Soil preparation
and cultural fertilization and irrigation are extremely important to plant health. If a plant is
not in the correct growing conditions (improper soil, too much or too little moisture, and
excessive or inadequate sunlight), it will be prone to problems. Also, try not to
wound plants unnecessarily. Mow and prune correctly and avoid mower and other
mechanical injury to healthy trees and shrubs. It is also necessary to recognize the
fact that plants, like other living organisms, age. Plants that are old and dying, or
stressed, are more susceptible to pest problems.
Do not allow pests to become established. Purchase plant material that is free of
disease or insect problems. You may never have a problem with certain insects if you do
not introduce them into your landscape. Given the opportunity, use pest-resistant plant
varieties to reduce pesticide usage in your landscape.
Proper sanitation will help prevent many pest problems. Many pests survive the winter
among weeds or in plant debris. Remove weeds and any decaying plant material. If
possible, when a plant has died due to a pest problem, replace it with a pest-resistant
variety of the same species or with a different species to prevent repeating the problem.
Exclusion barriers, such as plastic netting for birds and Japanese beetles, or plastic or
woven landscape fabric for weeds, can also prevent or reduce pest damage. Soil
solarization, the practice of covering soil with clear plastic to raise the soil temperature
for two to three weeks, will kill many weed seeds. Calling in Reinforcements – Biological Controls
Landscapes and gardens have natural populations of helpful organisms at work. These
“workers” are the beneficial predators, parasites and pathogens that naturally target pest
organisms in the environment. Beneficial organisms include a wide assortment of
organisms such as: bacterial and/or fungal diseases; spiders; mites; centipedes;
nematodes; various lady beetles; ground beetles; rove beetles; lacewings; predacious
bugs (minute pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs, damsel bugs, stink bugs); and numerous
parasitic wasps. Most pest management practices are designed to manage against the
pests; instead, manage for beneficial organisms that are already providing valuable pest
Why is biological control important? The preservation and use of common beneficial
organisms ensures that the natural ecological balance is maintained and promotes a
safe home landscape by reducing pesticide use. The misuse of pesticides can impact
directly on beneficial organism/pest interactions. Pesticide resistance develops in pest
organisms that were once killed by a specific application of pesticide and through
genetic evolution can now survive the application. Increased rates of application may not
provide greater control either, making a once reliable pest control weapon useless. Pest
resurgence occurs when natural biological control organisms are reduced by broad
spectrum pesticides, either by one that persists in the environment for long periods of
time or by numerous applications of chemicals with short residual times, to a level where
they can no longer keep the pests in balance. This causes an increase in the pest
A disruption of natural enemies can also lead to secondary pest outbreaks. Pesticides
reduce the natural enemy populations and a pest insect that was not causing the original
problem increases in population to a damaging level. Pesticides also affect non-target
organisms such as wildlife, pets and humans.
One method of biological control is augmentation. This practice involves the purchase
and release of beneficial organisms, usually insects, into the infested area. In order for
this practice to be effective, the correct organism must be purchased and released at the
appropriate time. Many beneficial insects choose specific hosts or prey as food sources.
Anyone considering this tactic must have the knowledge to select the proper beneficial
Conservation of natural enemies present in the environment is the easiest and most
cost-effective method of biological control available for gardeners. Conservation
involves changing and improving management practices to either reduce harmful effects
on beneficial organisms or to improve the environment to increase their populations.
Reducing pesticide impacts would be the first and most important change to conserve
natural enemies. Many insecticides and some fungicides directly affect natural controls
by killing them at the time of application. Others have long residual activity and harm
beneficial organisms that later move into the treated area. Pesticides can also indirectly
harm beneficial organisms by causing lengthened development time of the immature
stages, reduced prey consumption, reduced reproductive capability, and repellency,
where beneficial organisms are driven away from the treated plants by the chemical
pesticide. An easy and colorful method of promoting beneficial insects is to grow a wide
variety of plant materials in the home landscape or garden. An herbaceous perennial
border, with a variety of species that flower at different times during the growing season,
will provide alternate food sources (i.e. pollen) for some beneficial insects when there
are no prey insects available. The Last Resort: Chemical Pesticides
If you have a pest problem serious enough to require the use of a chemical pesticide,
check the product label to be sure both the plant and pest are listed. Read The Entire
and, above all, Follow The Directions Exactly
. Remember that The
Label Is The Law
, literally, for pesticide application. By using higher application rates
than the directions call for, you will only waste money and risk contaminating the
environment without eliminating any more of the pests.
The following recommendations can reduce pesticide impacts. • Use the fewest number of applications possible, and use only when necessary. • When possible, use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil rather than a longer residual
• If synthetic insecticide is to be used, try to use one with a short residual activity. • Use granular formulations or systemics (which are absorbed into the plant through the
roots or leaf surfaces) instead of long-lasting foliar sprays.
• If possible, time pesticide applications for when natural enemy populations will not be
harmed, such as during pupation or when they are on another host plant.
• Use reduced rates whenever possible and treat only infested plants, not entire areas.
When selecting and using chemical pesticides, keep in mind that low toxicity does NOT mean non-poisonous! It means that these pesticides pose the least environmental risk, as they tend to break down rapidly into non-toxic components when exposed to air, high temperatures, and sunlight.
Adams, R. 1994. Integrated Pest Management for Insects and Related Pests on Ornamental Plants: A guide
for arborists and groundskeepers
. University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System.
Casagrande, R, B. Maynard, R. Clark, S. Gordon, K. Lagerquist, W. Green, and A. Simeoni, Jr. 1995. Sustainable Trees and Shrubs for Southern New England
. University of Rhode Island Cooperative
Kerbow, Dawn. 1994. Pesticide Alternatives for the Homeowner
. University of Connecticut Cooperative
Klass, C. and D. Karasevicz. 1998. Pest Management Around the Home, Parts I & II
. Cornell Cooperative
Miscellaneous Bulletin S74.
Olkowski, W., S. Daar and H. Olkowski. 1991. Common-Sense Pest Control: Least-toxic solutions for your
home, garden, pets and community
. The Taunton Press, Newtown CT.
Raupp, M., R. Van Diesche and J. Davidson. 1993. Biological Controls of Insect and Mite Pests of Woody
Landscape Plants: Concepts, agents and methods
. University of
Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.
club root, corky root, some fusarium and verticillium wilt, crown gall
brown rot, shot hole (tree fruit), some grape diseases, apple scab, apple black rot, anthracnose, early blight, and late blight
brown rot, peach scab, apple scab, powdery mildew, downy mildew
powdery mildew, anthracnose, apple scab, brown rot, peach leaf curl
brown rot, peach scab, apple scab, powdery mildew, and downy mildew
INSECT, MITE AND SLUG MANAGEMENT
Colorado potato beetle, elm leaf beetle, many moth larvae, and mosquitoes
household pests, slugs, many crawling insects
mites, aphids, mealy bugs, thrips, fungus
aphids, psylla, scale, mites, mealy bugs, leafhoppers
beetles, moth larvae, whiteflies, leafminers, gypsy moths, and mites
beetles, weevils, slugs, loopers, mosquitoes, thrips,
bugs, leafhoppers, striped cucumber beetles, caterpillars, thrips
The materials listed above are registered for use on specific pests, plants, or areas of the country. Information is for educational purposes only. The recommendations on this fact sheet are based on available knowledge at the time of printing. Any reference
to commercial products, trade names or brand names is for information only; no endorsement or approval is intended. Registrations change frequently. USE PESTICIDES ONLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH CURRENT FEDERAL AND STATE LAWS.
(Source: Clean Water Fact Sheet, produced by Non-Point Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) and Sea Grant Connecticut)
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