With all the concerns of pesticide use on vegetables and in landscapes, Kent Gardener Maggie L. Moor-Orth offers an alternative: Integrated Pest Management.

With all the concerns of pesticide use on vegetables and in landscapes, there is an alternative that helps reduce the use of spraying chemicals when we see a pest on our favorite plant. This common sense approach to pest control is called Integrated Pest Management. It is an effective and valuable tool in controlling pests in the home garden. IPM involves the use of a combination of strategies to control pests in a very cost effective, environmentally safe and socially acceptable manner. There are three components of a successful IPM program:

Scouting for pests, which involves frequent garden visits (at least once a week) to inspect plants and evaluate pest density (the number of insects or disease per unit of measurement). It is also important to know when pests will occur in the area. For example, the Colorado potato beetle adults can be seen beginning mid to late May. (I will do an article later this month on a general pest calendar.)

Using a combination of control strategies. These tactics, which are used to manage pests such as parasites and predator (biological), include resistant varieties (plant genetics), crop rotation (cultural) and pesticides (organic and/or synthetic pesticides).

The economic threshold refers to the amount of pests on the plant(s) that can be tolerated before action (treatment) is taken. 

The benefits of IPM include:

More effective and efficient pest control — sprays are timed for correct pest and life stage; unexpected pests are detected early and the most effective control strategy is used. Reduced pesticide applications due to scouting and treating on a case-by-case basis. As a result of the above two benefits, there is a reduction of potential hazards to people and the environment.

You may want to try IPM in your garden and landscape as an economical and environmentally friendly pest control method. 

Happy pest scouting!