There are many classic images of farmers spraying thousands of pounds of DDT on their crops to control bugs. Those practices did a huge amount of damage to the bugs, but also the crops, the people and the planet.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a system designed to prevent our pest control efforts from poisoning the rest of our world.

The idea is simple: use only as much pest control efforts as you need to keep pests below the level of economic impact. The principle involves that belief that it isn’t necessary to every last bug in the field in order to raise a healthy crop. There is a level where the bugs in the field have no real impact on the value of the crop. That’s the level that IPM strives for.

Another important aspect of this concept is the use on non-chemical solutions whenever possible. There are traps for many insects that have been designed that can be very effective. In a person’s home, this can lead to the use of sticky traps and poison traps versus perhaps a whole home fumigation. In agriculture, this could mean that there are weevil traps and crop rotation to prevent any one type of insect from experiencing a massive and detrimental population growth.

IPM is an idea that was born during the Nixon Administration in the wake of the DDT issue. After books and protests, songs and Congressional hearings, the federal government needed to come up with a framework that would guide farmers and pest control experts on the proper levels of pesticides to use.

In some ways, this concept can be related to the idea of justifiable force as use by police and military. There the criteria are stated even more clearly. An officer can use only as much for as is necessary to stop a threat, no more. The threat must be immediate and unavoidable. If one imagines the relationship between insects and a pest control expert in the same way, the pest control expert should only use as much force as is necessary to control the insect population. This means not spraying a field with noxious pesticides “just in case” an infestation might occur, as has been done in the past.

When working with pest control experts, ask them about IPM and how that can be applied to your situation. It can make living with insects and pests easier and a lot less harmful to humans, pets and the world around you