U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Pesticide Programs (75IIP)

EPA 731-F-I0-005 February 2010

Fact Sheet ^
Integrated Pest Management
What Is Integrated Pest Management?
Pesticides are powerful tools for controlling pests.
However, there are also other tools available for use
in pest control, many of which pose greatly reduced
risk to human health and the environment than do
pesticides. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective
and environmentally sensitive approach that makes use of a
variety of these tools. The concept—know what the problem
is before you apply pesticides—is fundamental to planning
a successful IPM program. IPM relies on a combination of
common-sense practices and science-based strategies, rather
dian solely on pesticide spraying.
IPM programs use current, comprehensive information
regarding the life cycles of pests—which may include insects,
weeds, rodents or other small mammals or wildlife, birds,
or other living organisms—and their interaction widi the
environment. IPM strategies make use of this information in
combination with available pest control technologies to manage
pests economically, and with die least possible hazard to people,
property, and die environment. IPM programs take advantage
of all appropriate pest management strategies, including the
judicious and careful use of pesticides, when necessary.
Who Can Use IPM?
Anyone with a pest control problem can implement an IPM
program—farmers, homeowners, landscape professionals,
school administrators, etc, IPM principles can be applied to
both agricultural settings (e.g., farms and orchards) and non-
agricultural settings (e.g., homes,, landscapes, schools, indoor
workplaces, and wilderness areas).
IPM is not a single pest control method but, rather, an approach
diat involves a series of pest management evaluations, decisions,
and controls. Consequendy, every IPM program is different.
Each program is designed around individual pest prevention
goals and eradication needs, considered in the context of
the environment or setting. Regardless of their differences,
successful IPM programs use the same four-tiered approach.
1.	Set Action Thresholds
Before taking any pest control actions, IPM users first set
an action threshold—a point at which pest populations or
environmental conditions indicate that pest control action
must be taken. This threshold is often the level at which pests
will become a health hazard or an economic direat. Finding
a single pest does not always mean pest control is needed—a
predetermined threshold is critical to guiding pest control
decisions.
2.	Monitor and Identify Pests
Not all pests require control. Many pests are not harmful,
and some are even beneficial. IPM programs work to monitor
for and accurately identify pests so appropriate suppression
decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds.
Information gathered from pests monitoring and identification
can help users take appropriate preventative measures and reduce
the possibility that pesticides will be used unnecessarily or
incorrecdy.
3.	Prevent
Prevention—removing conditions that attract pests—is an IPM
programs first line of defense. Prevention includes taking steps
to ensure that pest populations cannot increase to unacceptable
levels. To prevent pests from becoming a threat, IPM programs
work to manage crops, landscapes, or indoor spaces—creating
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an unfavorable environment for pests to colonize, grow, and
reproduce.
•	For an agricultural crop, prevention might include using
cultural methods, such as rotating between different crops,
selecting pest-resistant varieties, and planting pest-free
rootstock. It also can include mechanical methods, such as
cultivating weeds and regularly aerating soils.
•	In a non-agricultural setting, prevention might include
reducing clutter, sealing areas where pests enter the building,
keeping premises free of trash and overgrown vegetation,
and diverting water away from a building or field to avoid
standing water.
4. Control
If monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that
pest control is required, and preventive methods are no longer
effective or available, control methods can be employed. Control
methods are evaluated on effectiveness and relative risk. Those
methods found to be both most effective and pose the lowest
risk are selected first. In addition to preventative measures, IPM
combines two central methods for reduced-risk pest control:
•	Biologically-Based Pest Control
These methods usually do not have toxic effects on animals
or people and do not leave toxic or persistent chemical
residues in the environment. These pesticides are derived
from plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, some minerals,
or other non-man-made synthesis. In addition, certain
microorganisms—bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa—
can effectively control target pests. Examples of biological
pesticides (also known as "biopesticides") include:
o Using targeted, biological pesticides (e.g., insect
pheromones) to disrupt a pests mating cycle, and
o Using naturally-occurring insects and competitors
to help control pest populations; an example of a
beneficial insect is the ladybug.
•	Chemically-Based Pest Control
These are reduced-risk chemically-based pesticides such
as herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. They are often
synthetic materials that direcdy kill or inactivate the pest.
This pest control method is often used simultaneously with
other lower-risk methods. When using chemically-based
treatments, it is important to use a pesticide that only
affects the targeted pest.
1PM vs. Organic
IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management
options, including, but not limited to, the judicious use of
pesticides. In contrast, organic food production applies many
of the same concepts as IPM, but limits the use of pesticides
to those that are produced from natural sources, as opposed to
those produced from synthetic chemicals. In most cases, food
grown using IPM is not identified in the marketplace as is
organic food. Many individual commodity growers are work-
ing to define what IPM means for their crop and region, and
IPM-labeled foods are available in some stores. With defini-
tions, growers could begin to market more of their products as
"IPM-Grown , giving consumers another choice in their food
purchases.
If further monitoring and identification indicate that reduced-
risk pest controls are ineffective, then use additional controls
such as the targeted spraying of a pesticide.
Where Can I Use IPM?
IPM can be used in a wide variety of situations. The following
are just a few examples of situations where the use of IPM is a
practical option:
•	If a garden is infested by flies, use biological controls.
Introduce the pest's natural enemy, such as parasitic wasps,
to reduce and control the population.
•	If ants and cockroaches enter a school through a hole in
rotting wood, replace the rotting wood and seal any other
openings into the building.
•	If the major crop on a farm is being destroyed by wilt virus,
use seasonal climate to determine the best time to harvest
the crop. Maintain soil and seedlings well by using netting
to cover seedlings as they grow and aerating the soil between
plantings.
For More Information.
EPAs Pest Control and Pesticide Safety for
Consumers
https://www.epa.gov/ safepestcontrol

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