What Is IPM?

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a sound, sensible approach to dealing with pests—insects, plant diseases, weeds, and more—with methods that protect human health and the environment while saving money.

IPM is integrated because it brings together, or integrates, a range of biological, organic, cultural, mechanical, and chemical options for pest problems. And IPM is about more than just bugs—it’s also about fungi and mildew, bacteria, viruses, weeds, and wildlife, all of which can be pests if they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. And it’s about management because you can only manage pests—you can’t get rid of them forever, no matter what anyone tells you.

IPM Basics

In coping with pests, the best offense is a good defense. If we had to sum up IPM in four words it would be: Think before you spray.

Step 1: Be prepared. What pests can you expect and how can you avoid them? Learn which tactics work—and under which conditions—should pests show up in your yard, garden, or doorstep. Learn about the beneficial organisms that can help you out.

Step 2: Think prevention. It’s the first step in IPM.

  • Keep pests out: caulk and seal cracks and holes from cellar to attic
  • Don’t feed pests: keep it clean, inside and out
  • Keep plants and lawns healthy so they resist pests better

Step 3: Stay alert. Scout routinely, keeping tabs on potential pests. Know your threshold—the point when a few pests become a few too many.

Step 4: Look at your options. Every tactic costs something. Will your benefits justify the costs? Know all the options before you commit.

Step 5: Choose and use. Choose tactics and tools that provide the best results while keeping environmental costs as low as possible and staying within your budget. Whatever option you settle on—do it right! Remember: the label is the law.

Step 6: Think again. How did it work? How much has the situation changed? What did you learn? What is left to learn?

Adapted from definitions provided by the New York State IPM Program.