Integrated Pest Management: A Holistic Approach to Pest Control
Posted by Norman Fong
As an eco-conscious consumer, you may already buy organic produce and recycle regularly. Heck, maybe you even compost. But did you know that you can also protect the planet (and the health of your family) by choosing sustainable pest control?
Problem caused by pesticides
A report from the Pesticide Action Network in October 2012 stated that more than 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States. Autism, birth defects, cancer, diabetes, obesity, may all have been contributed to by pesticides.
Recent studies have tied pesticides to illnesses in kids. ADHD, has affected far more children in recent years, possibly due to direct or indirect exposures to chemicals and pesticides. They recommend even stricter laws on these toxins, especially in schools and parks.
What is Integrated Pest Management
Sustainable pest control has a special name: Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This approach has been around for about a century, but it is only now that farmers, pest management professionals and consumers are fully appreciating how IPM is not only healthier for the environment, but also more effective than older “spray and pray” pest control methods.
Typically, old-school pest management involved spraying tons of noxious chemicals. The thinking here was that lab-generated pesticides could effectively wipe out any problematic insect and rodent populations.
While this seems to be a very logical approach on the surface, the truth is that this kind of pest control can have long-lasting negative effects on the environment. Although a certain chemical solution may appear to kill all undesired insects on contact, it is difficult to know how that pesticide will impact soil and water quality down the road. Beyond poisoning our natural resources, insecticides kill off species we see as positive. For instance, the alarming decline in honeybee populations is linked to pesticides. Birds are also highly susceptible to pesticides; they eat tainted bugs and then become sick or die. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, 72 million birds are killed in the U.S. every year by pesticides.
Furthermore, the results of traditional pest control are often temporary; insects quickly become resistant to chemical sprays. Finally, the pesticides traditional exterminators use to kill pest populations have been tied to a number of health problems, including ADD in children.
In contrast, Integrated Pest Management takes a more holistic approach to pest control. It considers the biological needs of each pest species and aims to prevent infestations and manage pest populations accordingly. Sprays may be applied in rare cases, or only after all other options have been exhausted. Green IPM programs use only plant-based applications.
Prevention is a key ingredient in IPM. Here are a few IPM tips you can apply today to prevent an infestation around your home:
Remove food sources. Food scraps attract pests like magnets. Keep a clean kitchen, and clear out your pantry at least once a year. Store dry goods in tightly sealed containers.
Reduce access to your home. Maintain at least a foot-wide radius of clear space around your home. Tree limbs, weeds and shrubbery near your home’s exterior act as shelter and food for pests. It’s easy for bugs and rodents to crawl from such overgrown vegetation into you home. Another way to minimize access is to completely seal up any cracks in your home’s exterior.
Eliminate pest-friendly features. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so IPM dictates that you should remove any buckets of water or other puddles around your home. Firewood piles make great homes for pests as well – prevent problems by storing your firewood off the ground and away from any buildings.
Guest Post provided by Eden Advanced Pest Technologies, leading integrated pest management company in Western Washington and Oregon.
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