Integrated Pest Management or ‘IPM’ is a sustainable approach to managing plant pests by using several different methods to cause the least harm to people, property, and the environment. IPM focuses on the management of problems rather than their eradication. Using IPM strategies in your garden is one way to ensure its productivity!

Avoiding Pest Problems

Prevention is key to IPM! It is important to select the right plant, for the right place at the right time. It’s also important to select pest-resistant plant varieties and maintain healthy plants through proper watering and fertilization.

  • Plan before you plant. Be sure not to plant in a location not suited for a particular plant. Stressed plants are more susceptible to insects and disease.
  • Start with healthy plants. Do not plant plants with insects or disease.
  • Monitor the lawn and garden regularly. You’ll want to be able to detect a pest problem earlier rather than later.
  • Water and fertilize properly. Too much of either can make plants vulnerable to insects and disease.
  • Encourage beneficial insects in your garden. Learn to recognize the insects in your garden and let the good ones do the work for you!

Recognizing Pest Problems

Depending upon the insect and the life cycle stage they are in, they may look different than we are used to! Here is a photo of the pupal stage of a lady beetle.

Scouting or monitoring the garden or plants in the yard frequently helps detect problems early. Some of the common insects you’ll find in your garden are: aphids, mealybugs, scales, whiteflies, thrips, mites, caterpillars, and stinkbugs. Often times you’ll find damage from the insect before you see the insect itself. Chewed or deformed leaves, sooty mold or a colony of ants scurrying up and down stems are all signs an insect may be present.

Treating Pest Problems

IPM is the best strategy for dealing with pests in the lawn and garden. IPM strategies:

  • Remove affected plant leaves or parts. If an insect or disease is heavily concentrated in an area, you can reduce or eliminate the problem by simply removing it.
  • Pick insects off by hand. Be sure to dispose of them so they don’t make it back into the garden.
  • Look for beneficial insects. If you see a pest outbreak, try to determine if it is being managed by natural enemies. Many insects such as ladybugs and lacewings prey on pest insects and removing them will just help the pest insects. If you need help identifying insects, contact your local county Extension agent!
  • Try the above strategies before pesticide use. If the problem persists and pesticides are needed, use products that have a reduced-risk to the environment such as insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, botanicals, or microbials.
  • Read and follow all pesticide label instructions. The label is the law!

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