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What Does IPM Mean?

By Chris Williams on April 10, 2013.
Bug spray IPM

Question

In my search for a pest control company, I keep coming across the term “IPM.” A lot of the companies advertise that they use IPM methods. What does that mean? Does Colonial do IPM?

Answer

IPM, which stands for Integrated Pest Management, is a concept that originated in agriculture about 50 years ago. Instead of automatically spraying their fields, growers developed a system that would tell them when, or if, they needed to use pesticides, based on monitoring for crop pests and their damage. Farmers also implemented biological and cultural controls like crop rotation. The new system was an economic success in reducing the amount of pesticide used, and in reducing the number of pesticide-resistant pests. IPM concepts then moved into the urban environment and were first used for ornamental and lawn plant pests. Eventually, the structural pest control industry saw the benefit of IPM methods as well.

There are dozens of definitions for IPM, but there are some features that all integrated pest management programs should have in common. Instead of relying on just one control method like the use of pesticides, an IPM approach typically “integrates” several types of controls, including things like improved sanitation, pest-proofing or structural modification to keep pests out, and trapping. Pesticides can be used in IPM, but rarely are pesticides the only control method used, and they are often not the first control method used. IPM programs typically limit the use of pesticides and emphasize other control methods.

IPM begins with inspection and monitoring to find out if there is a pest problem, exactly where it’s located, and how serious it is. Based on the information gathered during an initial inspection, pest control professionals design a pest management program to fit the situation. Pest control today is no longer just spraying pesticides. Fortunately, as in industry we have moved beyond that.

To answer your second question, yes, we use IPM methods at Colonial, as should any responsible pest control company. In fact, most of us have been practicing IPM for so long that it’s just a given, and we don’t think to even advertise the fact anymore. We’ll never just walk into your home and start spraying. We strongly emphasize pest prevention. Finding and removing or resolving the source of your pest problem is our first priority. Our technicians are specially trained in pest-proofing which is simply modifying conditions around your home to keep pests out in the first place.

When pest control is needed, we always consider the least toxic and least disruptive options such as specialty vacuuming, trapping, repellents, and baiting. When we use pesticides, we always choose products that have the best safety records and pose the least risk to people, pets, and the environment. For example, we even use IPM for termite control. We no longer trench and inject pesticide around the foundation of your home. Instead, we use in-ground termite monitors to first check for foraging termites, and then special baits to control them.

You should expect that any reputable pest control company will be using IPM methods to resolve your pest problem. If there is no inspection, no discussion of alternative control methods or pest prevention, and especially if the company has a “spray and pay” attitude, you need a different company.

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