Integrated Pest Management

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Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a system of pest control that includes a number of methods including pesticides but also biological controls (i.e. using ladybugs to eat aphids) and other ecological methods. According to the U.S. EPA, IPM includes four steps:[1]

"Set Action Thresholds
"Before taking any pest control action, IPM first sets an action threshold, a point at which pest populations or environmental conditions indicate that pest control action must be taken. Sighting a single pest does not always mean control is needed. The level at which pests will either become an economic threat is critical to guide future pest control decisions.
"Monitor and Identify Pests
"Not all insects, weeds, and other living organisms require control. Many organisms are innocuous, and some are even beneficial. IPM programs work to monitor for pests and identify them accurately, so that appropriate control decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds. This monitoring and identification removes the possibility that pesticides will be used when they are not really needed or that the wrong kind of pesticide will be used.
"As a first line of pest control, IPM programs work to manage the crop, lawn, or indoor space to prevent pests from becoming a threat. In an agricultural crop, this may mean using cultural methods, such as rotating between different crops, selecting pest-resistant varieties, and planting pest-free rootstock. These control methods can be very effective and cost-efficient and present little to no risk to people or the environment.
"Once monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is required, and preventive methods are no longer effective or available, IPM programs then evaluate the proper control method both for effectiveness and risk. Effective, less risky pest controls are chosen first, including highly targeted chemicals, such as pheromones to disrupt pest mating, or mechanical control, such as trapping or weeding. If further monitoring, identifications and action thresholds indicate that less risky controls are not working, then additional pest control methods would be employed, such as targeted spraying of pesticides. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides is a last resort."


According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization:[2]

"Integrated Pest Control is a pest management system that, in the context of the associated environment and the population dynamics of the pest species, utilizes all suitable techniques and methods in as compatible a manner as possible and maintains the pest population at levels below those causing economic injury."

According to the another definition:[3]

"Integrated pest management can be defined as the practice of preventing or suppressing damaging populations of insect pests by application of the comprehensive and coordinated integration of multiple control tactics. Tactics are the various control methodologies, e.g., chemical, biological, cultural. Strategies are the planned manipulations undertaken to optimize the dynamic integration of control methodologies in the context of their economic, environmental and social consequences. The philosophy is holistic, but deeply rooted in applied ecology."


Some highlights from the history of IPM include:[4]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. IPM Factsheet, EPA, Accessed February 1, 2011.
  2. Food and Agriculture Organization. 1975. Rep. FAO Panel of Experts on Integrated Pest Control, 5th, Oct. 15–25, 1974. Rome, Italy: FAO-UN, Meeting Rep. 1975/M/2. 41 pp.
  3. Radcliffe's IPM World Textbook, Accessed February 1, 2011.
  4. Biocontrol Reference Center, Accessed February 1, 2011.

External Resources

External Articles