Integrated Pest Management: The Sustainable Solution to Pest Control Challenges

Killian Pest Control management combines physical and biological methods to reduce damage from unwanted organisms. These organisms include weeds, vertebrates, invertebrates, nematodes, and pathogens.

Identifying and correctly assessing pest problems is important before any control measures are taken. Using threshold-based decision-making can eliminate unnecessary treatments.


pest control

Traditional pest control, such as that used by homes and commercial facilities, is a reactionary process. Pests are spotted and a pest control operator responds by treating the problem with chemicals. Preventative pest control, on the other hand, prevents pests from entering a structure in the first place. It includes sanitation practices, landscaping and cultural methods that discourage pests from inhabiting a property.

To manage a pest population, it is important to know the pest’s life cycle and what environmental conditions favor its growth and development. This information is vital to identifying the proper controls, which may include adjusting irrigation practices; planting crops that are adapted to the site and resistant to pests; avoiding certain growing windows; releasing natural enemies such as beneficial insects (e.g., lacewings and lady beetles); using physical barriers; or managing weeds.

Observing a plant for the presence of pests can also be helpful, although some pests are so small that they cannot be easily seen. Inspecting a plant at different times of the day and week will provide you with an idea of how often the pests are present and how their populations are changing over time.

Knowing a pest’s life cycle can also help to determine when it is most likely to damage a plant or cause economic injury. For example, some insect pests are most destructive in the larval or pupal stages, while others damage plants as adults. Scouting and monitoring allow you to identify a pest’s life cycle stage, which is critical in deciding how to control it.

The use of biological controls can be extremely effective, especially in the case of some introduced insect pests that do not have naturally occurring predators or parasitoids to keep their numbers under control. Biological control uses living organisms (such as bacteria, viruses or fungi) that are specific to the pest species. For example, bacillus thuringiensis bacteria release a toxin that destroys the midgut of caterpillars, thereby controlling their population.

Preventative pest control can significantly reduce the need for more aggressive pest treatment. It involves vigilance in inspection and cleaning, keeping garbage receptacles closed and sealed, maintaining clean landscaping, sealing off entry points and trimming vegetation to prevent hiding places for pests, and putting up barriers that discourage pests from accessing a building or garden.


Biological control is the use of predators, parasites, and disease agents to suppress pest populations without using chemical insecticides. These organisms are often referred to as natural enemies of the pest and they may be conserved or released (as opposed to importing them from other locations). Conserving native predatory mites that prey on mite pests in orchards or parasitic nematodes that kill harmful soil grubs are examples of biological controls. Many of these organisms are readily available and can be purchased for release in greenhouses or other enclosed structures to help prevent the emergence of a damaging pest.

Suppression is a goal of most IPM programs, with the intent to reduce the number of pests below a threshold where they will no longer cause damage. This can be accomplished by a combination of prevention strategies such as crop rotation, trap crops, pest-resistant varieties, and other cultural practices. It can also be accomplished through monitoring, scouting for pests, and soil testing to determine when to spray.

The ultimate goal of eradication is to eradicate the entire pest population. However, this is a rare goal in outdoor pest situations, because it can be difficult to achieve. In indoor environments such as greenhouses and commercial buildings, eradication is more realistic than in outdoor settings because the environment can be tightly controlled.

Once monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is necessary, IPM programs evaluate the proper control method both for effectiveness and risk. Less risky pest control methods, such as pheromones to disrupt mating or mechanical control through trapping and weeding, are typically chosen first. If these and other prevention techniques fail to provide adequate pest control, more targeted chemicals, such as drenching or spraying with pesticides, can be considered.

Harmful insects are a major threat to global food production and human health. Finding ways to effectively and efficiently control them, including through the use of nuclear technologies when appropriate, should be a priority for people everywhere. That’s the message coming from experts at a joint FAO/IAEA conference in Vienna, which began this week. The conference is focusing on the development and management of area-wide integrated pest control methods.


Pests are undesirable organisms (insects, bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes, or weeds) that damage or devalue crops, plants, lawns, and other living things. They may also displace beneficial species and disrupt ecosystems. The goal of pest control is to reduce their numbers to a level that is acceptable for the environment and human use. Suppression and prevention are the primary goals, but eradication is a possible objective in some situations.

Eradication is a rare goal in outdoor pest situations, as it’s usually much more difficult than prevention and suppression. It’s more common in enclosed environments, such as residential and commercial buildings or greenhouses, where the environment is controlled and pests are less likely to establish themselves. Eradication is also a possible goal in some invasive species management programs, such as those for Mediterranean fruit fly and gypsy moth.

When eradication is necessary, it’s important to take the time to evaluate all options and implement the controls that are best for the environment, humans, and other species. This includes studying product labels and NMSU guidance documents, and selecting the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for each situation. PPE should include long-sleeved shirts, pants, closed-toe footwear, face and eye protection, and gloves. It’s also critical to follow pesticide application and disposal best practices to limit the potential for environmental contamination and ensure safe, responsible use.

Many natural forces, such as weather and topography, limit pest populations, and a variety of physical and mechanical control methods are available for managing their presence and impact. Biological control uses natural enemies to injure or consume target pests, and cultural controls change the environment to make it less suitable for pests and more suitable for desirable species. Chemical, genetic, mechanical, and cultural controls can directly influence the size of pest populations or limit their access to environmental factors they need to survive and reproduce.

When using pesticides, it’s important to read and understand the label and NMSU guidance documents carefully. This is especially true when applying chemicals near water or in other sensitive habitats. It’s essential to practice good hygiene and to have proper pesticide cleanup supplies, as well. Educating yourself and others about proper pesticide use and safety is the best way to limit exposure and minimize environmental contamination.


Identifying pests and monitoring their numbers, damage, or behavior is the first step in making decisions about how to control them. Proper identification requires familiarity with the pest’s biology, life cycle, and habits. It also includes understanding how it interacts with its environment, such as its preferred habitat and food sources.

The information gained through scouting helps determine whether or not a particular pest needs to be controlled. It helps set action thresholds based on the degree of harm or nuisance and/or the potential for damage to desired plants. It also aids in the selection of the most effective control methods for a specific situation.

Pest management goals are generally divided into prevention, suppression, and eradication. Prevention involves excluding pests, which can be done through physical controls that include identifying and blocking points of entry or harborage, or by installing barriers. This can be especially important in sterile or enclosed areas, such as operating rooms and other specialized areas of health care facilities.

Preventive practices also involve establishing good cultural conditions that minimize the presence of pests, such as sanitation, avoiding overcrowding, and maintaining appropriate levels of moisture and nutrients. This can be a very cost-effective approach to pest control, since it is generally less expensive than chemical treatments.

A major challenge of prevention is that pests can be difficult to predict. Continuous pests, such as weeds and insects, are usually quite predictable, but sporadic and potential pests often require special environmental conditions to become problematic.

Many landscape pests develop rapidly in warm temperatures, but their calendar timing can vary by two to three weeks from year to year. Knowledge-based tools, such as phenology calendars and degree-day models, help IPM practitioners account for this variation and properly time control tactics.

Monitoring is an essential part of any pest control program, and is typically done through a combination of visual inspections, trapping, or other sampling techniques. Several types of monitoring tools are available for turfgrass pests, including pheromone-based lures that can be used to estimate population levels and assess mating disruption. In addition to being a crucial component of IPM, proper monitoring can help evaluate the effectiveness and risks of chemical control strategies.