Pest Management & Pesticide Use

What Is IPM?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a comprehensive, science-based approach to solving pest problems. Pests can include things like insects, critters, bacteria, invasive plants, and weeds.

IPM uses a combination of techniques based on all the information and experience available aimed at long-term prevention of pests or pest damage. IPM can be used by gardeners, farmers, homeowners, and others to reduce the risks of pests and pesticides. It is not a strict set of rules—rather IPM is based on common-sense practices that may be adapted and adjusted to fit the situation and need. Whether it’s to create safer playing conditions at your local park or protecting your garden from insect pests, IPM provides solutions for every pest problem.

Some IPM Methods

While specific tactics vary, they share certain underlying principles including:

1) Prevention

2) Identification of the Culprits

3) Selection of Appropriate Anti-Pest Tactics Based on The Pests’ Biology and Habits

4) Follow-Up Observation to See If the Tactics Were Effective

Incorporating these habits into regular gardening and landscape maintenance helps to avoid pest ‘outbreaks’ and the need for expensive rescue treatments or replacement of plants.

Some examples of IPM methods include:

  • Regularly and systematically inspecting trees and gardens for evidence of damage or disease
  • Specific identification of the suspected offender
  • Mowing higher to favor grass instead of weeds
  • Physical methods such as pruning or installing deer fencing
  • Planting flowers to attract and support beneficial insects and spiders
  • Targeted and strategic use of pesticides only as needed

Read More at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Where is IPM Used?

Anywhere pests occur, IPM practices can be applied. From homes, schools, and restaurants to farms and home gardens, any environment that struggles with damage from pests can benefit from IPM.



IPM Focuses on Prevention First and Selecting an Appropriate Control Strategy ONLY When Control is Needed

Is it really a pest? You decide! For example, the caterpillar taking a few bites of parsley or carrot tops in your garden may soon metamorphose into a beautiful and harmless butterfly. On the other hand, leaf beetles devouring your entire planting of lilies may be too much to tolerate, even for an ecologically minded gardener. Before taking any control action, make sure the culprit hasn’t pulled a dine-and-dash and consider the full range of IPM control tactics at your disposal.  IPM can include Cultural Practices (plant choice, mulching and fertilizer, harvest techniques, for example), Biological Controls (by natural enemies), Physical Controls (such as fencing, traps, physical removal, or heat or cold treatment) and Pesticides (a targeted application of a product selected on the basis of its expected effectiveness and risk profile (to people, pets and the environment).

Learn more about the fundamental principles of IPM  []

What is a Pesticide? (From

Pes-ti-cide: any substance used to kill, repel, or otherwise control a pest. Pesticides are often referred to by the type of pest they control: insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides and disinfectants (to name a few).

The term pesticide covers a wide range of products. By definition, a pesticide is any naturally or synthetically derived substance used to kill, control, mitigate or repel undesired insects, weeds, fungi, bacteria, rodents or other organisms. Pesticides are used by both conventional and organic farmers, as well as many others, and may be made from natural or biological ingredients. Products labeled “natural” or which are approved for organic food use are also pesticides, as are rooting hormones and other plant regulators. Consequently, these substances include insecticides (bug sprays); herbicides (weed killers, including ‘weed & feed’ products); fungicides (disease controls); rodenticides; defoliants; growth regulators; and disinfectants (including mold controls). Even home-made products used to control pests are considered pesticides and are regulated in some circumstances.

Pesticides registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are tested for human and environmental effects and registered for certain uses. General-use pesticides are available to the general public and are found in many products used by homeowners and gardeners. They have an EPA registration number on the label. In some cases, an applicator license is required to use general-use pesticides. Restricted-use pesticides are so designated by the EPA and always require an applicator license for use. Some pesticide products are exempt from testing and registration by the EPA but are not exempt from registration by the BPC.  A license may be required to use these products as well.

Find out more about pesticides at