Integrated Pest Management

Integrated pest management (IPM) refers to strategies used to minimize the application of chemical pesticides and to combat plant pests, such as insects and other arthropods , pathogens, nematodes , weeds, and certain vertebrates, without incurring economic plant damage. All plant pests (as well as other life-forms) have natural enemies, and the use of such biological control agents is commonly thought to form the basis of IPM. Biological control can be practiced through the introduction, encouragement, and/ or release in high numbers of appropriate natural enemies of plant pests. However, in many cases, particularly those involving pests other than insects, biological control may be insufficient to provide economic management of pests on crops or other plants valued by humans. Therefore, IPM utilizes an arsenal of additional strategies to accomplish its goals. These tactics may include periodic sampling of plants to determine if and when pesticides must be used to avoid economic damage, and when the target pests are most susceptible to the least amount of pesticidal treatment. Elements of cultural or physical management, such as crop rotation, destruction of infested plant material which may serve as a source of subsequent pest problems (sanitation), or use of high temperatures or moisture (flooding) to destroy pests. Most of these strategies can be used by home gardeners, as well as by farmers, and are site or situation specific to a particular plant environment.

There are many variants of IPM philosophy. These differences form a continuum from simply using knowledge of pest biology to apply pesticides with timing that is optimal for managing pests, while minimizing applications of pesticides, to the total exclusion of "hard" pesticides in favor of "soft" or naturally derived materials that are less disruptive to nontarget organisms and the environment ("bio-intensive" or "bio-based" IPM).

This type of bio-intensive IPM is not much different from some forms of organic or ecological plant culture. Like IPM, organic growing philosophy has many variants, and most of these allow the use of certain naturally derived, as opposed to synthetic, pesticides. However, many of these types of natural materials can also become pollutants, if used unwisely or in large quantities.



Flint, Mary Louise, and Dreistadt, Steven H. (1998). Natural Enemies Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Biological Pest Control. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Stapleton, James J. (1995). "Evolving Expectations for Integrated Disease Management: Advantage Mediterranea." Journal of Turkish Phytopathology 24(2):93–98.

Reuveni, Reuven, ed. (1995). Novel Approaches to Integrated Pest Management. Boca Raton, FL: Lewis Publishers.

Internet Resource

University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. "What Is IPM?" Available from .

James J. Stapleton

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