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IPM for pest control

By: YC

Posted on: July 09, 02

I recently discovered Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to fight off the epidemic of spider mites that nearly wiped out a large planting of annuals.

The basic principles of IPM are simply sound gardening practices: carefully choosing plants, providing the right conditions for them, checking them regularly, and intervening when pest or disease damage reaches unacceptable levels. The more complex aspects involve finding and using controls that are nontoxic or the least toxic, rather than immediately grabbing a powerful pesticide.

Choosing the right plants is critical. Since many pests prey on specific plant species, try planting most resilient plants for your conditions. For example, I've replaced some of my finicky hybrid roses with more trouble-free species roses.

Since IPM involves limiting the use of pesticides, it's important to clearly define the function of the garden or landscaping. Is it a front yard that should look shipshape at all times or is it a more casual naturalistic garden? How much plant damage will make the landscape look unappealing? While a few chewed leaves might go unnoticed, a shrub with a veil of powdery mildew might look too unsightly. I generally set higher standards for public areas of the garden than for more-secluded sections.

If the problem seems to stem from improper culture, I modify the plant's environment. If the problem is a pest or disease, I must decide how to treat the problem. Here, my options are physical traps and barriers, biological controls such as horticultural oils, or chemical pesticides.

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