Hello, this is John Pennington, county extension
agent for Agriculture and Water Quality in Washington County, and today I’m going to
be talking about how you can protect water quality by practicing integrated pest management,
or IPM, to protect your home, lawn and garden from pests but not harm water quality in the
process. Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is an
effective approach to pest management that relies on a mixture of common-sense practices
to get rid of pests and protect the environment. IPM is the integration of four pest control
methods known as mechanical control, cultural control, biological control and chemical control.
However, before you start to treat a pest problem, it is critical to make sure that
you have correctly identified your pests, conditions that may be allowing your pests
to thrive and potential control options that may work best.
After all, what might appear to be a pest problem could actually be another problem
in which pests are secondary, such as allowing pathways for spiders to gain access into your
home, or not rotating garden plants on an annual basis.
You can always contact your local county extension office to seek help in identifying pests and
potential pest sources, as well as solutions to a pest problem.
Beginning with prevention to prevent pest occurrence, cultural controls work really
well. Cultural control is the practice of modifying the environment to reduce the prevalence
of unwanted pests. Some examples of cultural controls to keep away pests in the house are
keeping a clean home that is free of food scraps and easy entry points.
In the lawn or garden, using mulches in flower beds and gardens can really cut down on weeds,
and watering plants in the morning instead of evening can really cut down on plant disease.
Just simply walking through your yard or tending to your garden daily is a great form of cultural
control that allows you to visually monitor the pest presence in your yard.
Another way to prevent and treat pests is with mechanical controls. Mechanical control
is the management of pests with physical means, such as manually picking pests from plants,
using traps for pests or hand-pulling weeds.Of course, using your shoe to control pests is
a great example of mechanical pest control. However, if stepping on a pest is not an option
for you, then you can always practice catch-and-release. Biological control is not a bad way to go,
either, in order to get rid of or prevent of pests. Biological control is the use of
natural organisms to control or prevent pests. Some examples of biological control are allowing
beneficial critters like spiders, birds and ladybugs into your lawn and garden. Remember,
not all insects or animals are always pests. To increase your chances of having natural
garden pest-prevention helpers, you can plant flowers in your garden, plants that produce
seed or fruit in your yard and you can keep those bird feeders filled up throughout the
year. All of these things will help introduce beneficial organisms into your lawn and garden
to help control pests. Some biological help can also be ordered through
the mail, or bought at a store if you prefer. For example, these goldfish eat mosquito larvae
and aquatic weeds in this landscape water feature.
Finally, chemical control can also be used. Chemical control refers to the application
of pesticides, even organic pesticides like soapy water and diatomaceous earth.
Chemical control can be effective just as the other methods so far, but you must use
great caution when using chemical control methods, as many chemicals have restrictions
about how to use them, such as the amount that you use, where to use them and the time
that you apply them. Many chemicals can drift with the wind, or
be carried off-site from rainfall and runoff. When chemicals move away from their intended
target, they can harm other people, animals, plants and water quality.
An easy way to minimize the danger to you, your family or the environment’s health is
to choose products with less hazardous chemicals whenever you have the choice.
No matter what types of pests you have in the lawn, garden or home, integrated pest
management is a surefire way to use a combination of approaches that should result in a pest-free
environment and protect water quality. For more information on protecting water quality,
contact your local county extension office or watershed partnership. This podcast was
funded by the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and Environmental Protection Agency.