Research Shows Structural IPM Confronts Pests and Reduces Pesticides

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–February 3, 2012.  A new study recently published in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management (JIPM) shows that from 2003 to 2008 the use of insecticide active ingredients was reduced by about 90% in University of Florida (UF) housing buildings after an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program was implemented. The results of the study show that pest pressure was effectively managed throughout this period as well. These findings demonstrate that IPM can be an effective management tool for institutional pest problems, confronting pests while reducing human exposure to dangerous chemicals.

IPM is a systematic approach to managing pests based on long-term prevention or suppression by a variety of methods that are cost effective and minimize risks to human health and the environment. The goal of urban IPM is to manage pests primarily by prevention and elimination of their access to food, water and harborages, exclusion techniques that seal entryways, as well as changes in human behavior. Low-toxicity insecticides were used only when necessary.

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In their article “Advancement of Integrated Pest Management in University Housing,” the JIPM authors find that the IPM program helps to virtually eliminate the use of hydramethylnon, borate, desiccants, organophosphates, fipronil, and pyrethroids, and they conclude that further IPM advancements can be made by increasing resident education, technician training, and the level of pest preventative inspection and maintenance.

The researchers describe their approach in the study:

“The DOHRE [Department of Housing and Residence Education] began using basic IPM practices for UF housing and residence halls in 2003, including routine apartment inspections, sanitation requirements, requests for maintenance to UF Facilities Management, and use of low-risk insecticides and baits. Low-risk products had the signal word “caution” on their EPA labels. To advance the initial UF, DOHRE IPM program, all bait stations for ants and cockroaches were removed from the apartments and prophylactic insecticide treatments were discontinued. In 2008, we instituted the following: a written IPM policy, a dedicated IPM specialist trained at UF, prescribed pest prevention practices, education of residents about insects, a pest monitoring system, accurate pest identification, an electronic pest complaint procedure, a rapid response and collaborative decision-making process, preferential use of nonchemical pest management methods, application of low-risk insecticides if necessary, continuous IPM program evaluation, and comprehensive record keeping.”

By educating residents on the importance to IPM of sanitation and maintenance, most pest problems were able to be dealt with effectively without having to resort to chemical controls. As a result, the authors state that the UF IPM program “effectively maintained minimal pest levels, indicated by a continuous low number of pest complaints, while decreasing the amount of insecticide applied by 92%.”

Beyond Pesticides defines IPM as a program of prevention, monitoring, and control which offers the opportunity to eliminate or drastically reduce the use of pesticides, and to minimize the toxicity of and exposure to any products that are used. IPM does this by utilizing a variety of methods and techniques, including cultural, biological and structural strategies to control a multitude of pest problems. Beyond Pesticides recommends the implementation of a defined IPM system to prevent pest problems with non-chemical management strategies and only least-toxic pesticides as a last resort.

IPM is a term that is used loosely with many different definitions and methods of implementation. IPM can mean virtually anything the practitioner wants it to mean. Beware of chemical dependent programs masquerading as IPM.

Those who argue that IPM requires the ability to spray pesticides immediately after identifying a pest problem are not describing IPM. Conventional pest control tends to ignore the causes of pest infestations and instead rely on routine, scheduled pesticide applications. Pesticides are often temporary fixes, ineffective over the long term. Studies such as this one documenting the UF IPM program demonstrate that this approach is not necessary to control pest problems.

Sources: Entomological Society of America, beyondpesticides.org

All positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Summer and Fall at Prairie State College