Go Green - Integrated Pest Management

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Please feel free to browse through our helpful and informative IPM TIPs.


Inspection and Documentation Integral Parts of IPM

Effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) involves more than relying on product-based solutions. IPM is a process that starts with inspection of an infested site and includes documentation throughout the entire process.

Inspection of a site goes beyond locating harborages of pests. To effectively solve a problem, pest control operators need to correctly determine the degree of pest infestation and the type of pest. Noting structural and environmental conditions helps in identifying pests. PCOs can better treat a problem if they know the type of pest they are targeting and keep its behavior in mind.

Identification influences pest control. For example, a trait of cockroaches is the preference to have their side or top of their body touching another object, so they are more likely to walk along walls and close to furniture. This means a cockroach could completely miss a trap set even a few inches away from a wall.

Proper inspection includes checking all the cracks and crevices in which pests can hide. Special tools are needed to reach the out-of-the-way places pests prefer. A flashlight helps to see into dark places, while a mirror helps to see underneath, on top of and behind objects. A flushing agent helps inspect small cracks where a flashlight won't provide adequate visibility. Screwdrivers and pliers are needed to open equipment panels and gain access to difficult-to-reach areas.

Sitting or crawling on the floor is not unusual for a proper inspection. Areas need to be looked at from a pest's perspective, which means getting close to the ground. Nighttime inspections can also be productive, because many pests are active at night.

Detailed records organize the IPM process. For complex situations, it might be helpful to draw diagrams noting harborages as the area is inspected. This leads to documentation, which is a key component to IPM. Records should be kept throughout the process listing the pests present, the extent of infestation, the tools and products used, discussions with clients and structural deficiencies.

Documentation is necessary for legal or regulatory requirements in some states, but it also protects both the PCO and the customer. Documentation helps to organize and implement an effective program. Making detailed notes is critical for follow-up when initial methods don't work. If another method is necessary, it's important to know which methods were already attempted.

Monitoring Leads to Long-Term IPM

Spraying or setting a bait does not mark the end of the pest management process with a client. Complete integrated pest management (IPM) involves continuous monitoring of the area.

Constant evaluation is essential to long-term pest control. Monitoring allows a PCO to detect any recurrence of a pest problem, which should be addressed early. While documentation is an individual element of IPM, it's also an integral part of monitoring. When a pest problem persists, previous treatment methods can be modified more easily if thorough documentation was done for the site. Up-to-date records also help with a timely reapplication of products, if necessary.

Trapping Measures Effectiveness. Unlike control methods that disrupt the pests' environment, traps provide a more realistic gauge for the progress of management.

Sticky traps and glue boards baited with attractive food substances are the most common forms of trapping. PCOs can document the effectiveness of control strategies by comparing pre-treatment trap counts to post-treatment counts.

During monitoring, PCOs should note any changes in the site which would increase the chances of pest entry. To help note changes, a log could be set up for production and maintenance staff to record pest sitings and locations. This would encourage staff to remain involved in reducing pest problems and allow PCOs to react quickly.

Customers Play a Role in Monitoring. As part of monitoring, the client should be advised of any progress and developments during the pest management process. Keeping the customer informed will lead to improved cooperation. For example, if customers know the positive results of their sanitation efforts, they will be more likely to continue to practice them.

Sanitation and Exclusion Require Client Involvement

Customer cooperation is a critical element of any successful Integrated Pest Management (1PM) program. Consider sanitation and exclusion, two crucial steps in IPM. Neither would be fully effective without the continuing involvement of the client.

Sanitation involves eliminating harborages by removing debris from the building and grounds, and cleaning up food debris, spills and standing water daily. Any food products should be stored neatly off the floor and away from walls.

Client involvement increases success of sanitation. It is important for clients to know how they can help correct pest problems. IPM depends heavily on the continuous assistance of the client to eliminate food, moisture and harborages for pests. Without client assistance with sanitation, a PCO cannot provide effective pest management. The best way to gain client cooperation is to educate them on the procedures being used in their homes and businesses.

When clients know what a PCO is doing and the reasoning behind it, they are less resistant to the methods the PCO wants to use. Plus, they begin to understand their own role in the success of pest management.

Pest control applications provide greater, longer lasting control when sanitation is taken seriously. When an emphasis is placed on eliminating food debris, cockroaches are likely to increase their foraging range. This increases the chance that cockroaches will come into contact with a trap, bait or insecticide. Good sanitation helps keep cockroach populations from exploding. With less food around there is less to sustain a large population.

Exclusion prevents reinfesting of structures. The client also needs to help with the process of exclusion. The goal of exclusion is to prevent pests from entering the structure. Exclusion involves making structural repairs. These repairs can include patching wall openings, weatherproofing doors and windows, caulking cracks, sealing plumbing, and trimming trees and shrubs close to the building. Also, windows and attic vents should have screens. Using a variety of methods to keep pests outside can minimize the need for insecticide treatments inside.

After a building has been sealed, it is important to inspect incoming boxes and furniture to stop pests from being carried into the building and reinfesting the area.

The Future of IPM

In the past, it was believed that the most effective pest control came from heavy spraying of an entire structure. The goal was to do whatever it took to completely eliminate the pest problem. Both PCOs and customers believed the more products applied the better.

Pest Control Industry Responds to Issues. Now the, industry is shifting to the use various treatments. Study showed PCOs are using alternative treatment methods in response to legislative and environmental pressure, greater safety and liability issues, better informed customers and the popularity of improved treatment strategies. These factors are leading PCOs to convert to some form of integrated pest management (IPM).

Effective IPM involves inspection, exclusion, sanitation, monitoring and documentation. In some situations, baiting, vacuuming, dusting or the use of dilutables or insect growth regulators (IGRs) may be needed.

Research revealed that PCOs believe they have a "toolbox" of pest control products and strategies to choose from when treating an account. With the trend toward greater use of IPM, a toolbox of products and strategies is vital to a PCO's success, because each account is different in terms of regulations, customer mindset, level of infestation and other circumstances.

IPM to Advance in the Future. What does this mean for the future of integrated pest management? Constant improvement will be the goal as legislation on the use of pesticides becomes stricter. In addition, the importance of safety and liability continues to increase, and customers continue to learn about pest control and demand more options. PCOs will need to learn to maintain effective pest control using fewer, safer products in a less obtrusive manner.

The Right Tool. The Right Time. The challenge for PCOs will be to choose the right product at the right time for maximum effectiveness. The toolbox concept recognizes that a single method, whether it be baiting or the use of a dilutable, cannot effectively eliminate a pest infestation in every situation. A combination of methods available in the toolbox is necessary to control pests.

Simply reacting to pest problems will not be acceptable. PCOs will need to anticipate pest problems and take steps to avoid or prevent them. Constant inspections and monitoring should be done to detect problems in early stages. PCOs will need to have experience and thorough knowledge of the IPM process.


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