Pest control, is mainly the process that maintains nuisance organisms below economic thresholds, is a complex ecological process often mediated by biodiversity. Agricultural intensification results in widespread losses of biodiversity, with important implications for pest control.
Definition of Integrated Pest Management IPM
IPM is a control strategy that uses all available information to give long-term pest control. IPM incorporates targeted sustainable and environmentally sound methods.
Methods of IPM include education, habitat modification, biological control, cultural control and, where necessary, the use of the least hazardous pesticides.
The three E’s are a simple way to remember the main principles of IPM.
- Effectiveness – (How well will the method work?)
- Economics – (How much will it cost?)
- Environment – (Does it include non target animals/organisms?
- The Basis
The basis of Integrated Pest Management is to make a correct assessment of existing pest infestations and forecast likely future pest infestations. The assessment is based on an Integrated Pest Management Survey, including correct identification of any pest species that are present. Practical knowledge of pest behaviour and the effectiveness and risks associated with the available pest control methods.
- To carry out an effective pest assessment and identification we need a good understanding of the relationship between hazard and risk.
- Hazard is the potential something has to cause harm. Harm may include a skin rash a cough or in extreme cases even death.
Risk is the likelihood that the hazard will cause you harm. Integrated Pest Management assessments should follow a six-point plan:
1. Assess the extent of the problem by undertaking a full survey of the premises.
2. assess if the problems can be solved by good housekeeping alone.
3. Assess if the problem can be solved by the use of non-chemical methods.
4. If the problem cannot be solved by using non-chemical methods what is the most suitable and least hazardous pesticide.
5. Assess post treatment action to reduce risks to both occupiers and the environment.
6. Assess whether future treatment and monitoring visits are required.
IPM Survey Techniques
An Integrated Pest Management survey is one that collects the data required on the pest species, including the distribution and numbers of pest at a given point in time.
When surveys are conducted over a longer period they are considered to be monitoring operations. Which are to show us how the pest population changes, so we can check the performance of our control operations.
The ability to accurately survey a property is fundamental to the Integrated Pest Management monitoring process. Firstly obtain a site plan and undertake a walk around to familiarise yourself with the premises. Take note of any signs of pest activity this may include droppings and damage to property or products. Ask people who work on the site if the have noticed signs of pests or have had pest problems in the past. Note any housekeeping issues, as all pests need food and moisture to survive. Look for cracks/ holes in walls and broken drain covers. Once the survey is complete you should consider whether you have all the information you require to make a full Integrated Pest Management assessment. Do you need to make another site visit? Consider undertaking a night survey.
Site visits may not be enough to discover all pest species monitoring traps should be used to assess possible pest activity. Some monitoring devices are designed to attract and trap and kill insects other traps will catch the pest alive such a live catch mousetraps. The presence of pests in a monitoring trap gives us a good indication of the size of the infestation. Monitoring dust is also a useful tool to track and monitor pest activity.
Accurate pest identification of pest species is a critical factor in IPM. Pest can usually be identified from their external anatomy. Occasionally a Specialist in insect identification may need to be used.
Once the extent of the problem has been identified the best method of pest control can be decided. The most environmentally acceptable methods should always be considered first.
Non-chemical methods include proofing to keep the pest out of the infested area. The use of bristle strips and fly screens can be a good solution. Activities such as filling Rodent access holes with rodent proof paste or even better cement will have very good effect. Investigate the possibility of changing the environment to make it unsuitable to the pest to live. Consider trapping methods.
Chemical control is the last option you should consider Pesticides come in many forms these include bait, gels and sprays. A good pesticide will be selective in action meaning it will have a good effect on the target but be safe to use where non target animals / organisms may be present. Most pesticides will present some hazard to animals and humans but the risk can be lowered with proper application techniques and the use of PPE.
When it has been established that the use of a pesticide is required a properly approved product must be used and must be applied using the correct method.
Always check the product label for application rates required PPE and that is suitable to treat the particular pest. Most pesticides can only be purchased and used by trained and qualified operators.