Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a process used to solve pest problems that focuses on the long-term prevention of pests and their damage. IPM uses ecosystem based strategies that work to minimize the risks to people, beneficial animals, and the environment.
Photo by Kenneth Ray Seals
The five key steps to utilizing IPM
- Set an Action Threshold – Determine the level at which pests pose an economic or health threat. Pests are often present in the environment but do not necessarily pose a threat until a certain threshold or population level is reached.
- Pest Identification – Determine the type of pest present. Pests damage or interfere with desirable plants, damage structures or homes, or impact human or animal health. Pests can be plants, vertebrates, invertebrates, nematodes or pathogens.
- Monitoring and assessing pest numbers and damage – Determine how many pests are present and the extent of their damage before taking any control action. This could be as simple as visually observing the amount or number of pests or can be very accurately measured through a rigorous survey protocol.
- Preventing Pest Problems – Prevention should be the first line of defense before other control methods are used.
- Control – Once the above actions are taken, use the most effective combination of control methods to limit threats.
IPM Control Methods
- Biological Controls: Biological control is the use of natural enemies—predators, parasites, pathogens, and competitors—to control pests and their damage.
- Cultural Controls: Cultural controls are practices that reduce pest establishment, reproduction, dispersal, and survival. For example, changing irrigation practices can reduce pest problems, since too much water can increase root disease and weeds.
- Mechanical/Physical Controls: Mechanical and physical controls kill a pest directly or make the environment unsuitable for it. Physical controls include mulches for weed management, steam sterilization of the soil for disease management, traps for rodents, or barriers such as screens to keep birds or insects out.
- Chemical Control: Chemical control is the use of pesticides. In IPM, pesticides are used only when needed and in combination with other approaches for more effective, long-term control. Also, pesticides are selected and applied in a way that minimizes their possible harm to people and the environment.
Wildland and Landscape Pests
Goldspotted Oak Borer
Native plants, while well suited for the area, may still be susceptible to pests. The Goldspotted Oak Borer, Agrilus auroguttatus, (GSOB) in an invasive beetle that was likely introduced via transported firewood from its native range in Arizona. GSOB has caused extensive damage and mortality to native oak communities in Southern California. GSOB only attacks oak species (Quercus) such as coast live oak, canyon live oak, black oak, and Engelmann oak.
Damage to infected trees includes crown thinning and dieback, bark staining on the main stem, bark injury from woodpecker foraging, and D-shaped emergence holes on the main stem and larger branches of the tree. Following several years of extensive and repeated bouts of injury from larval feeding, tree health declines and the infected trees eventually die.
Currently, management of GSOB is focused on reducing the spread of the pest. This includes restricting the movement of firewood that could potentially harbor GSOB. “Burn where you buy” is a good motto to remember. The University of California Cooperative Extension is researching additional management methods. If you suspect a GSOB infestation on your property, report it to the UC Cooperative Extension.