Integrated pest management (IPM) is a strategy that uses environmentally sound, yet effective, ways to keep pests from invading your home, damaging your plants, or annoying you. Successful IPM usually combines several methods for long-term prevention and management of pest problems without harming you, your family, or the environment. In IPM, using pesticides may be an option, but when other nonchemical methods are used first, pesticides are often not needed.
Follow these steps to manage pests around your home and garden:
. Identify your pest correctly to be sure the management method you choose will be effective. If you aren’t sure what your pest is, call the Master Gardeners at 953-6112. Find out if the pest is a problem that needs to be controlled and learn about its life cycle and biology.
. Determine if there are preventive or nonchemical methods you can use to reduce the problem. For best results, combine several methods from the following categories:
o Prevention: Prevent pests from invading or building up their populations in the first place. This might include removing the pests’ sources of food, water, and shelter, or blocking their access into buildings or plants.
o Cultural controls: Cultural practices are things you can do to discourage pest invasion such as good sanitation, removing debris and infested plant material, proper watering and fertilizing, growing competitive plants, or using pest resistant plants.
o Physical or mechanical controls: Control pests with physical methods or mechanical devices such as knocking pests off of plants with a spray of water, using barriers and traps, cultivating, soil solarization, or heat treatments.
o Biological control: Biological control is the use of beneficial organisms (called natural enemies) to manage pests. Encourage natural enemies by planting flowering and nectar-producing plants and avoiding the use of broad-spectrum pesticides.
. If effective nonchemical methods are not available, consider using pesticides.
o Pesticides can be part of IPM, but use them only as a last resort and only after you have tried other methods. Be sure that your pest problem is serious enough to warrant a pesticide treatment. Always use the least toxic, yet effective, materials available and use them in ways that reduce human and pet exposure and protect the environment.
o Combine pesticide treatments with other preventive methods to discourage pests from coming back.
Here are a few IPM tips and tricks for dealing with snails and slugs.
Copper barriers will keep snails and slugs out of planting beds; the copper reacts with the slime that snails and slugs secrete, causing a disruption in their nervous system similar to an electric shock. You can trap snails and slugs beneath boards or flower pots in problem areas. Scrape off the snails and slugs daily and destroy them; crushing is the most common method. Don’t use salt to destroy snails and slugs, since it will increase soil salinity.
Beer-baited traps buried at ground level to catch and drown slugs and snails that fall into them also work. Because it is the fermented part of the product that attracts these pests, you also can use a sugar-water and yeast mixture instead of beer.
Do you have a pest in your garden or other questions related to gardening? The San Joaquin Master Gardeners are available to help identify pests and provide solutions free of charge. Visit our web-site at http://sjmastergardeners.ucdavis.edu or call the hotline office at 953-6112. For more information related to IPM visit the UC Davis IPM site at http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/index.html
*Information for this article was taken from the UC IPM web-site