Integrated Pest Management

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Introduction to IPM

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is defined as "a coordinated decision-making and action process that uses the most appropriate pest control methods and strategy in an environmentally and economically sound manner using strategies that may include biological, cultural, mechanical, and chemical control methods and that must consider human health, ecological impact, feasibility and cost-effectiveness."

State law (RCW 17.15.040) requires institutions to design and implement an IPM program. The University of Washington designed its program in 1999 but was in fact practicing IPM principles long before this time.

IPM at the University of Washington is based on two main principles:

  1. Prevent diseases and infestations first. Non-chemical methods of preventing pest infestations are preferable to fixing them after they happen.
  2. Chemicals will be used only as a last resort.

UW IPM Guidelines

The following is a list of IPM guidelines that the University of Washington adheres to as it controls pest on UW campuses:

  • For action to be taken, the pest population must be a hazard to human health, an economic risk, ie able to damage UW property, and/or esthetically offensive to UW occupants
  • Consider as many alternatives to managing the pests as possible, including the alternative of "no action"
  • Determine each pest species' aesthetic, economic and plant and human health damage threshold
  • Take no action against non-pests
  • Know the life cycle and natural enemies of the pest species
  • Use non-chemical methods to prevent or remove pests, e.g., pheromone traps, electrocuting lights, or snap traps instead of toxic sprays and powders
  • Modify structures and change housekeeping practices to reduce pest entry and harborage opportunities
  • Replace toxic chemicals with less toxic chemicals or non-chemical techniques
  • Replace volatile sprays with non- or less-volatile baits, traps, etc.
  • Use crack and crevice chemical application instead of space sprays
  • Develop strategies to maintain low ambient pest populations
  • Monitor pest levels continuously to catch infestations early
  • Recognize that there may be no viable alternative to chemicals, and that these chemicals are also components of an IPM program as a last resort