Having pests infest your home or business can be a very stressful problem to deal with. Not only are they creepy, posing health risks and damage to your belongings, they can also be very difficult to get rid of and in most cases you will need to hire a professional pest management company to eliminate the problem at hand.
There are many pest management companies out there that will work on eliminating the immediate threat posed by these pests and give little regard to creating a sustainable and safe extermination process. This is where an integrated pest management (IPM) approach will come handy.
IPM looks beyond the immediate threat, aiming at developing a solution to not only exterminate the pests at hand, but also to eliminate the risk of further infestations by other pests as well. The approach used in an IPM process is to use the most effective, economical and environmentally friendly technique available to eliminate your pest problem.
This article will provide a detailed analysis of how the IPM process works, detailing why this should be the only option when it comes to handling pests that you may come across in your home or business.
What is Integrated Pest Management?
By doing a quick search for Integrated Pest Management online you will realize that there are many definitions and different approaches. All of them have a similar idea though, that is to approach pest control from a very strategic point of view to make the best decisions for each particular pest management issue. IPM was initially used for eradication of pests in agricultural environments, but now it is also being incorporated into urban pest management practices which will be the focus of this article.
In urban settings, the IPM approach is especially used in community housing where household pest occurrences tend to be higher and thus a large cost to the government. IPM in urban environments aims first at minimizing pest infestations by educating the public on preventative measures and identification of pests in order to catch a potential infestation as quickly as possible. It then extends to using the most efficient, economical and environmentally safe pest management methods whenever an infestation does occur.
How Does it Work?
The main goal of an IPM program is to minimize the economical impact that pests can have on their hosts while also reducing the chances of using harmful pesticides in the case of an infestation. In order to accomplish this, an IPM program has several components to it that requires the cooperation of all parties involved to be successful, including the pest management companies, tenants and property managers.
As mentioned above, there are several definitions of how to plan an IPM program. In general you will find these components in a good IPM program:
- preventative measures
- monitoring for and identification of pests
- thoroughly inspecting potential infestations
- properly preparing your house for effective treatment
- performing pest treatments when necessary
Since one of the main objectives of an IPM program is to minimize the economical impact of pests, preventing them from becoming a problem in the first place is a very important component. In order for preventative measures to be effective, there are two main components that need to work in synch; planning the program and educating tenants.
An IPM plan should start by defining what an acceptable level of pests is within a dwelling and have this communicated with all tenants. This threshold will be different for each type of pest. For example, most tenants will be able to tolerate a few ants here an there but should take immediate action upon seeing just one bed bug. Pest thresholds should be properly understood by tenants, especially in multi-family dwellings, so that when a certain pest is getting out of control it can be reported immediately. This will ensure that the problem does not spread, lowering the economic impact.
As mentioned above, in order for an IPM program to be effective, all parties involved must cooperate. This is especially true for tenants who are on the front lines and will be the ones needed to carry out the preventative plan. Tenants must be educated on basic practices that can be done around the home to prevent a pest infestation from occurring such as:
- taking necessary precautions when obtaining second hand furniture which can be a great place for pests to hitch a ride into a new home
- keeping all food items properly sealed or stored in the fridge to discourage pests from entering your home
- minimizing clutter around the home which can be a great place for pests to hide
- keeping doors closed and sealing any cracks in walls or foundations to eliminate any easy entrance points for pests
Monitoring for and identification of pests
Early identification of pests is crucial in efficiently exterminating them and minimizing their economical impact before the problem becomes serious and requires more costly efforts to be taken. As part of any IPM program, tenants should regularly monitor for common household pests and learn how to identify them. They should do this as part of their weekly routines and always keep an eye out for any creepy crawlers or signs of them such as bite marks or excrements. Any time that a pest is found it should be reported to the administrator of the IPM program so that they can ensure that the previously planned threshold levels are not surpassed.
Thoroughly inspecting potential infestations
The next phase of a good IPM program is to do thorough inspections when a potential pest infestation may be present. Depending on the type of pest you are looking for, there are different areas of your home that should be inspected and a variety of tools to do so. For some pests, such as bed bugs or mice, it is highly advised to hire a professional to inspect the premises as they have the necessary tools and are properly trained to look in places that may go unnoticed by the average person.
If an infestation is confirmed to have surpassed the pre-determined threshold level, adjacent dwellings should also be inspected to make sure that the infestation did not spread to neighbours homes. This step, like all others in an IPM program, is extremely important in planning an appropriate and cost effective extermination method if necessary.
Preparing your home for effective treatment
If an infestation was confirmed during the inspection phase of the IPM program, a pest control treatment should be applied right away. Before doing this, however, it is very important to properly prepare your home for treatment in order for it to be effective in getting rid of the pest at hand.
Usually the pest management company that you are working with will guide tenants on how to prepare their home for treatment to be effective, which is dependent on the type of pest you are trying to exterminate. Some things that tenants may be asked to do are:
- remove clutter from your home
- move furniture and appliances away from walls
- clean out your cupboards making sure to remove any open food items
- wash clothing and linens on high heat
Performing pest control treatments
Once an inspection has been performed, and the households that need to be treated have been prepared for treatment, it is time for the pest control company to determine the most efficient and cost effective treatment. One of the main goals of an IPM program is to use the most environmentally friendly pest control technique possible for the situation at hand. Only in extreme cases where there are no other options should synthetic pesticides be used, and should only be used by highly experienced pest control operators to minimize their impact on the environment. If all of the previous stages of the IPM program were done properly, this step should be performed with little or no harm to the environment.
Putting it All Together
As you may have noticed, IPM programs is a very proactive and strategic way of dealing with common household pests. It begins by defining acceptable pest levels in a dwelling, followed by putting systems in place to prevent pests from becoming a problem, and finally using the most economical, effective and environmentally friendly treatment option available in the case that an infestation does occur.
IPM programs are very successful in keeping pest level low because instead of just treating the immediate threat of a specific pest, they tackle the problem at the source and work towards preventing a potential outbreak in the first place. If you are looking to set up an IPM program in your community make sure to consult a highly experienced pest management company that is licensed by the appropriate licensing agencies in your province to ensure that it is administered in the best possible way.