The Five Steps for Managing Pests
Identify the plant that is afflicted, then identify whether or not there is a pest. Plant damage is often more likely to be caused by environmental conditions such as drought, overwatering, sunscald, frost, or wind burn. Then identify the pest. Make sure you are not looking at a beneficial insect or other natural enemy.
Regularly inspection or count, note environmental conditions, and keep records. This helps to make decisions about whether treatments are needed, and if so, when.
Determine Acceptable Injury Level
A few aphids on a shrub or a weed or two in a lawn are not a problem. At some point though, the numbers could reach an intolerable level. This might be determined by the pest involved and the location of the plant in the landscape.
Select and Implement Treatment
In determining what action to take, select methods that are the least hazardous to human health, the least toxic to non-target organisms, the least damaging to the environment, the most likely to produce long-term results, and the most cost-effective over time. Try the following strategies in this order (or in combination if necessary) and stop when control is achieved:
- cultural ontrols (e.g. growing pest resistant plant varieties)
- physical controls (e.g. pulling weeds, pruning out infestations, and installing pest barriers or sticky traps)
- mechanical (e.g. using machines or devices such as mowers and line trimmers)
- biological (e.g. using natural enemies of pests such as ladybugs and birds)
- chemical (always use the least toxic option and only as a last resort)
Evaluation is essential since it helps to determine what worked and what didn't.