Integrated Pest Management
When invasive and destructive species threaten your woods, you want a solution that protects your trees now and preserves the health of your forest for the future.
That’s the goal of Integrated Pest Management. IPM is a system of methods and practices that controls pests long-term in an economically and environmentally sound way. While often discussed in the context of managing pests, its principles also apply to management of weeds and invasive plant species. It is a process that combines common-sense methods and practices to provide long-term, economical pest and weed control, all while keeping your property, family and the environment safe.
Your IPM process is as unique as your woods, but it basically follows these principles:
- Preventing pests. Preventing an infestation is easier than controlling one, so start by making your woods a tough place for pests to live. When planting, choose more resistant trees if you can. Keep them strong and healthy by spacing them far enough apart and using thinning and prescribed burning to keep understory competition low.
- Knowing your enemy. Not every weed or insect is harmful, and some can be beneficial. So it’s important to monitor and identify what’s living in your woods. Keep an eye out for signs of tree decline or death, and use traps that target specific species if you suspect they may be present in your stands. And if you do find a pest in your midst, learn more about it in our [Guide to Invasive and Destructive Species](link to Invasive/Destructive landing page).
- Setting limits. Spotting a single pest doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem, and destroying every pest on your property may not be possible or safe. Part of IPM is asking: How many pests would it take to threaten the health and economic viability of my woods? That number is your “action threshold.” If your forest’s pest population is close to or exceeds this threshold, then it’s time to fight back.
- Taking action. Once you know what you’re up against, you can choose from a variety of pest control methods. In IPM, you use effective but less risky methods first, such as traps or beneficial organisms. Careful and targeted use of pesticides and other chemicals can also be part of the solution. Spraying a non-specific pesticide over a large area is a last resort.
There is no time like the present to put IPM into practice in your woods. If your woods are pest-free now, a few simple steps will ensure that they stay that way. And if you have a pest problem that threatens your forest, IPM control methods can help you fight back.
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