I.P.M.Integrated Pest Management
The exteriors of your facilities contain a number of pests that can be injurious to your property, landscape and customers. From termites to beetles to even mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus, today’s facility manager is charged with ensuring not only an attractive exterior, but also a safe one, free from annoying and possibly harmful pests.Developing an integrated pest management plan provides a method of controlling pests on your landscape exteriors in the most effective, safe and economical manner.
History of IPM
Throughout the 1950s and 60s, a product was used that eradicated most landscape pests effectively. That pesticide is better known as DDT. Of course, as we now know, DDT was a nasty chemical with significant residual effects and was very damaging to the food chain. In addition to the detrimental effects of DDT, it was customary for landscape companies to apply large amounts of pesticides in a preventative manner. This meant a program of chemical application, whether or not there was a pest present. The prevailing mindset was that if your chemical was applied, you wouldn’t have pest infestations. Unfortunately, this method was shortsighted. Many of today’s pests became immune or unaffected by yesterday’s products. Over-use has led to immunity, as well as voluminous amounts of toxic chemical pollutants in our landscapes and water resources. Needless to say, applications of broad-spectrum chemicals on a regular basis despite the lack of a need was a very costly endeavor. Landscape companies and facility managers were spending money on applications that were not needed and simply ended up in our wastewater without achieving any results. It was these ineffectual methods that led to the development of integrated pest management, or IPM. According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s IPM For Turfgrass and Ornamentals, IPM is defined as:
- ….the coordinated use of pest and environmental information with available pest control methods to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage by the most economical means with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment.
The goal of IPM is to successfully manage pests in the landscape through the use of information and planning. By employing information such as insect life cycles and weather patterns, the facility manager can implement an IPM plan that will allow for a cost effective and sound plan of action for minimizing and managing pests on their exteriors. There are a number of simple steps to take when developing an IPM plan:
- Documentation of pest control problems – identification of the nature, location, scale and intensity of pest problems
- Establishment of decision levels – establishing injury and accident thresholds
- Review of options for treatment – research and development of treatment strategies, methods, tools, etc.
- Determination of operational requirements – application procedures for tools, equipment, materials and methods; timing and frequency of treatments
- Development of management plans – development of general and site-specific, short- and long-term treatment strategies and prescriptions; documentation of management decisions*
Why Use IPM on Your Exteriors?
Many of today’s facility managers entrust the management of pests to outside companies and do not concern themselves with the cost factors or environmental impact. A landscape contractor that implements a standard run-of-the-mill pest attack of spraying on a regular schedule, whether or not applications are needed, is costing you money and negatively impacting the environment. In order to conform to industry and government standards, today’s facility managers must be more involved in the management of pests on their exteriors and what actions are being taken by the contractors in their charge. You should insist that your contractors utilize an IPM action plan for your properties. This allows you the knowledge of what is affecting your property, when to expect infestations and their eventual treatment. It also demonstrates a concern for the environment that further enhances customer perceptions of your “brand”. Lastly, a correctly implemented IPM program can significantly reduce your spend on landscape maintenance and help to control costs for all types of pest management.
Overwhelmed and Under-Informed
Although somewhat easy to implement, an IPM program can be a daunting task to undertake for the facility manager not trained in pests and chemical application. Unfortunately, the majority of landscape contractors have also not met the challenge to develop an IPM program for the prospective properties they manage. Instead, the status quo of spray, spray, spray continues at the detriment of the environment and your bottom line. In order to conform to environmental and community standards, perhaps it is time for you to consider utilizing an exterior services management (ESM) company. A professional ESM company can develop an action plan for you, as well as structure and implement an IPM program. An ESM company can keep you informed and explain the steps taken to achieve successful IPM. In addition to protecting the environment and elevating your community standing, you can achieve lower costs and a more effective pest program that results in a safe and more attractive exterior for your customers.
The Next Step
If you are serious about successfully managing pests on your exteriors, doing your part for the environment and reducing exterior service costs, then it is time to take the next step. Begin your successful development and implementation of an IPM program today. If you are like most facility managers and your time, schedule and responsibilities don’t allow this investment of time, then perhaps it is time to contact an ESM company and let them do it for you. Let your ESM Company take the guesswork out of IPM and set you on your way to cost-effective and safe exteriors.