Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management is an effective, environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that incorporates a variety of different techniques to control pests.  The primary goal of IPM is to solve pest problems with minimal impact on human health, the environment and non-target organisms. IPM is not organic - it incorporates the use of pest control products where other environmentally friendly methods are not appropriate.

The key to a successful IPM program requires some knowledge of plants and plant pests.  Being able to identify subtle changes in plant growth, performance or overall look becomes an asset.  Early detection of problems will allow for a more successful, less potent method of treatment.

An IPM program has several different components.

Plant Health

Make sure your plant selection is appropriate for the site ie...sun/shade, wet/dry, soil, wind etc…  Then develop a maintenance plan for optimal growth that includes watering, fertilizing and weeding.


Watch for deformities, discolouration, holes, wilting or loss of leaves or flowers. 

  • Visual inspections will help:
  • Detect problems while pest numbers are low and easier to control
  • Determine size of the pest population and extent of the damage
  • Identify any conditions contributing to the pest problem
  • Ascertain if treatments are needed and if they are  working

Once a pest has been detected you need to correctly identify it to determine whether or not it is indeed a pest or a beneficial insect.  Beneficial insects will help to control pest populations.  Once the pest has been identified, it is important to know the life-cycle and environmental conditions it prefers to decide if and when control measures should be taken.

Establishing Treatment Thresholds

Before treating any pest problem you need to decide when to take action.  There are two different thresholds:Economic - occurs when pest density causes damage equal to the cost of control measures.Action - pest population are at a size when control measures should be applied.

  • Essentially how much injury or damage can be tolerated by a particular pest population. If damage is minimal and only a few pests are present it can be beneficial to continue monitoring to see if the pest population is growing rampant or if beneficial insects are taking care of the problem.  Once you notice a large increase in the pest population, control measures may become necessary. 
  • A common mistake is to treat pests that are causing little to no damage due to a fear of potential spread. Careful monitoring will determine if spreading of the pest warrants control.

There are two main categories for treatment - preventive and control measures.

  • Select plants that are less susceptible or resistant to insects and diseases.  Many new hybrids, varieties and cultivars are introduced that have been bred or selected for their resistance to certain pests.Barriers - keep pests away from plants.  Ex: sticky bands on trees, row covers,
  • Cultural Practices -  manipulating the environment to make conditions less favourable for pests
    • Sanitation - eliminates materials or places where pests live and reproduce. Clean up plant debris and keep weed growth under control
    • Tillage - interferes with pest insect life cycles or destroys their habitat
    • Crop Rotation - used to eliminate pest species from surviving from year to year
    • Remove alternate hosts
    • Change planting distances, prune or thin  for good air circulation
    • Alter planting and harvest times

Usually controls are used only when preventive measures have not been sufficient.

Physical - methods that physically keep insects from reaching their host

  • Mulching
  • Yellow sticky traps
  • Hoeing / hand pulling to control weeds
  • Cold storage

Mechanical - methods that directly remove or kill pests

  • Hand picking
  • Cultivation - exposes pests to desiccation or predators
  • Light traps
  • Shake plants to dislodge pest
  • Strong spray of water

Biological - the use of living organisms that are the natural enemies of pests.  Natural enemies can include insects, mites, parasites, diseases, animals (birds), micro-organisms, soil fungi and bacteria.

  • Protect native beneficial species by avoiding the use of pest control products that have long residuals; select lower toxicity products; limit applications to plants and areas that are infested.
  • Use commercial Beneficial species - insects, mites, nematodes, micro-organisms (ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps)
  • Probably the most well known microbial insecticide that is readily available is BTK.

Chemical - involve the use of naturally derived or synthetically derived chemicals called pesticides or pest control products.  Pest control products are used to kill, control, repel or manage insects, rodents, fungi, weeds and other living things that are considered pests.  
Factors to remember when selecting pest control products

  • Select and apply pesticides according to label instructions to minimize harmful effects on non-target species and to reduce environmental hazards.  Make sure you pick an appropriate product for the job.  Try to choose low-toxicity products whenever possible.
  • Choose a formulation that suits your needs - Ready-to-use is often easier then trying to mix concentrates, using a back pack sprayer for spot treatments, hose-end sprayers for vertical heights 
  • Limit treatment to plants and areas affected by the pest - pest control products are 
  • Inform anyone that might be entering treated area

The Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is responsible for pesticide regulation in Canada.  Pesticides are regulated in Canada to ensure they pose minimal risk to human, health, and the environment.  Under the authority of the Pest Control Products Act Heath Canada - registers Pesticides, re-evaluates pesticides currently on the market, and promotes sustainable pest management.   Here is a link for information regarding the re-evaluation of Carbaryl

Evaluate Results
  • Keep records that show monitoring methods, actions taken and results obtained.
  • There is an increasing need for developing IPM programs. With environmental contamination and the emergence of pest resistance to pest control products individuals need to employ a variety of measures when trying to control pests.