Managing Garden Pests the Easy Way
IPM or Integrated pest management is not new to the field of landscape and gardening. In fact, this method has been introduced many years ago and is popular because of how safe these methods are when it comes to ensuring safe ways or practices within the landscape and gardens.
Definition of IPM
The use of long-term strategies and practices that focus in a safe manner to control and eliminate pests through methods such as mechanical, biological control, proper cultural practice, and the use of resistant plants.
How does this all work?
Integrated pest management is vast therefore we will be looking only at some of the basics to show how these methods relate to landscape and gardening and how we can use them to our advantage.
Many years ago when I first heard of these methods and how they worked to control insect and disease within the landscape and gardens, I was very fascinated and wanted to learn as much as I could on how to use these methods to keep insects at a level where they would not cause injury to plant life and also to minimize plant diseases.
IMP shows how to keep the insect population low without having to use chemicals that are harmful to pets and humans. In fact, when using integrated pest management the rule is as followed, pesticides should only be used when the pest population reaches an unacceptable level where
pesticides must be used, even then the less toxic is used first before moving on to the more toxic ones. Also, great safety measures and precautions are taken when using more toxic chemicals so as not to contaminate the air and water table.
Beneficial insects are protected when using IPM because pesticides, especially overuse of these chemicals can cause great harm even killing the good bugs. The responsibility of the good bug is to eliminate the bad bugs or bugs that do much damage to plant life. To learn more about good bugs and bad bugs follow this link. These are just a few of the many bugs that you may find in your garden and landscape areas.
Proper Cultural Practices
This is a method that is used to reduce or discourage insect infestation. Proper cultural practices mean choosing the right plant for the right location. One reason why plants are susceptible to insects is the wrong location. Many times plants are placed in an area where they will not survive because of the wrong location. What happens then is that plants become stressed
when plants are stressed they become weak, when this happens insects will take over. Some plants love full sunlight, some partial light, and then there are others that prefer the shade. If we place for example a plant that loves full sunlight in a shaded area that plant will become stress and the host insect will attack that plant.
Therefore before placing or planting any plant, first know its light requirements.
Plants have different water requirements. Plants are basically divided into two groups, you have high maintenance plants that require a good soaking in order to survive and low maintenance plants that can survive on very little water, if you do not know your plant’s
water requirements and water incorrectly you will not only be causing many injuries to your plant, but insects and disease will take over. So know your plant’s water requirements.
Also when watering plants remember to water at ground level because plants that have constant wet leaves are susceptible to disease.
There are many reasons for pruning which you can check out here, pruning plants. But what I want to point out is it is always good to prune diseased wood from plants because if you don’t the disease will spread and not only will plant life be in danger
but you may have to use fungicides because the disease may have spread to a point where applying fungicides is the only solution. So before it gets to this point inspect your landscape on a weekly basis and at the first sign of insects or disease, you can deal with it in a safe manner before taking more drastic measures.
Handpicking is another method of mechanical control, some pests such as caterpillars, snails, and slugs can be handpicked and place in a bucket containing water and dish liquid. This will not only get rid of them but you would have avoided using pesticides.
Remember that we mention a bit earlier there are good bugs and bad bugs, well biological control is a method where beneficial insects (good bugs) are used to eliminate the bad bugs that feed on our plants. By having a garden you will attract both types of bugs
but if you what to increase the good bugs population within your landscapes and gardens you can purchase them from your plant nursery or garden center and release them in your garden, this is a safe way to eliminate the bad bugs.
Don’t wait until the bad bug population is so high, because at this point the good bugs will not be able to eliminate the bad bugs as fast, so the sooner you can give the good bugs home in your garden the better. Again here is a list of both good bugs and bad bugs that you may find in your garden.
Example of how this works
Parasitic Wasp is a good example, the parasitic wasp lays its eggs inside the bodies of the bad bugs what, happens then is when the egg hatches, it hatches inside of the bad bugs, the larva then begins to feed on the internal parts of the bad bugs
by the time the larva reaches maturity, it emerges from the bodies of the bad bugs, at this point, the bad bugs are dead or eliminated and the cycle continues, isn’t that just cool not to mention a safe way to deal with garden pest problems.
Planting resistant plants is another method to discourage the use of chemicals within the landscapes and garden. So if the disease comes back continually, if possible replace those plants with varieties that are resistant to plant disease, this will eliminate the use of chemicals.
When it comes to IPM, scouting or plant inspection is a must, walk your landscape and garden areas at least two or three times a week if you can and look for signs that may tell you something is going on with your plants. Whatever you find record it.
Make sure and have a notepad, pen, or pencil and record your findings. Also, it would be good to carry along a magnifying glass for better observation, smartphones are great and you can also take pictures if you prefer, so you are now the detective of your landscape and garden.
Reasons for this information
This information will help you to identify the problem and then take the right measure in putting together an action plan. If all of this is new to you then you can contact
your local extension service for more help in identifying and bringing about resolutions. You can also do online research that will be of great help to you, there are many tools that you can find which will help you.
The final word
I know this article is somewhat lengthy, there is more than can be said on this topic. This is just to give an idea of what IMP is all about, this is truly a safe approach to gardening and landscape maintenance, so give it a try, I am sure you will be pleased with your results.