Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet


1991 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1000

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) In and Around the Home


William F. Lyon

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a systems approach that combines preventive techniques, non-chemical pest control methods and the wise use of pesticides with preference for products that are least harmful to human health and the environment. It is not the total elimination of pesticides, but an alternate approach to traditional pest control measures. Complete reliance, in the past, on pesticides alone for pest control allowed certain pests to develop resistance, created potential human exposure to harmful chemicals, unsound environmental contamination, threat to nontarget species and pesticide waste. IPM consists of routine inspection and monitoring with treatment only when pests are actually present, thus reducing traditional, routine pesticide application treatment (calendar date sprays) whether pests were present or not.

In the classic IPM model, first developed and used in agriculture, all management strategies are based on "thresholds." To justify treatment, sufficient pests or pest damage must have passed the economic threshold. For agriculture, it would be 100 to 200 horn flies per pastured animal (cattle) or perhaps when two or more armyworms are present per field corn plant on 25 to 30 percent of the stand or one worm per plant on 75 percent of the stand. However, in the household/structural pest management situation, there often can be no economic threshold, since any pests present (cockroaches) in a restaurant, hospital, home, business, etc. are usually not tolerated. In a meat packing plant, one blow fly is too many (public health problem) in contrast to one ground beetle (homeowner nuisance problem) found in a home. People may be willing to tolerate more pests if they are not directly affected. (Education and communication is very important in Urban IPM programs). Urban IPM training programs are offered by Extension, state and local pest control associations, private contractors, etc. IPM in schools and other public institutions has been spearheaded by the Ralph Nader Group and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Old fashioned, traditional pest control often did little except operate compressed air sprayers on a regular schedule (calendar date) whether pests were present or not. In contrast, IPM requires much higher knowledge and training, requiring that pesticides, when needed, be applied with precision and restraint, using only the safest labelled compounds, formulations and methods of application. Sprays are limited to "crack and crevice" applications with space sprays and fogging reserved only for unusual situations where no other solution is practical.

IPM is both site-specific and species-specific. For example, if one sees small, brownish cockroaches which are later identified as German cockroaches, where would one look for the infestations? Since German cockroaches have a high need for moisture and usually travel 10 to 12 feet from the harborage to look for food and water, the best places to look would be the kitchen and bathrooms. However, in heavy infestations these cockroaches could be found in other rooms. Knowledge of pest biology, movement and habits are important such as:

IPM means having access to a wide variety of tools to solve pest problems in the most effective and efficient manner rather than relying on one tool only (pesticides). One important aspect of German cockroach control is "monitoring." To meet this need, possible tools include flashlights, inspection mirrors, sticky traps, glue boards, double stick tape, chemical flushing agents (pyrethrins), etc.

IPM is a decision-making process anticipating and preventing pest activity and infestation by combining several strategies to achieve long-term solutions. It is education, proper waste management, structural repair, maintenance, biological and mechanical control techniques and pesticide application. It requires more sanitation, time and effort to monitor pest activity. The amount of pesticide, if needed, will likely be reduced.

Some differences and contrasts between IPM and old-fashioned, traditional pest control of household and structural pests are as follows:

Some IPM Tools, Strategies and Practices Include:

  1. Install Temp Vents.
  2. Use baits over conventional sprays. Apply with a bait gun.
  3. Vacuum cockroaches, fleas and other arthropods when present in large numbers.
  4. Use monitoring devices. (Ex: sticky traps).
  5. Use glue boards over rodenticides indoors.
  6. Use boric acid to protect wood (Ex: Bora-Care, Tim-bor, Guardian).
  7. Use mechanical traps over rodenticides indoors. (Ex: Ketch-Alls, expanded snap traps).
  8. Use a flashlight when inspecting. Always inspect.
  9. Use Insiders to restrict pesticide to wall voids.
  10. Use Stuff It to seal mouse holes and help prevent mice from spreading.
  11. Caulk small openings and cracks. (Ex: Whitmire PT 2).
  12. Suggest changing location of exterior lights and color of bulbs (50 watt sodium vapor), instead of anticipating treating around the lights on every service.
  13. Use pheromone traps.
  14. Use insect light traps. (Ex: Vector).
  15. Use a Board Certified Entomologist to set up your IPM Program.
  16. Where possible, use amorphous silica gel over conventional pesticides.
  17. Pinpoint the pesticide into specific locations where the pests are most likely to hide.
  18. Be able to identify the pest before prescribing a control method.
  19. Eliminate the pests indoors so you do not have to apply any pesticide indoors thereafter unless a problem arises again.
  20. Use bird netting over Avicides.

Source: Austin Frishman, Pest Control Magazine, June 1995.

Element Integrated pest management Old-fashioned pest control
Education Extensive Minimal
Inspection and monitoring Extensive Minimal
Emphasis Pesticides used when exclusion, sanitation, etc. are inadequate Routine pesticide application
Pesticide application By need By schedule
Insecticides in occupied spaces Baits Sprays & aerosols
Application of sprayed Mostly crack and crevice Surface treatment insecticides
Use of insecticide space spraying & fogging Minimal Extensive
Rodent control sanitation and exclusion Emphasis on trapping, Emphasis on rodenticide
Bird control Emphasis on exclusion Emphasis on avicide
Program strategy Preventive pest control Reactive
Potential liability Low High
Source: Integrated Pest Management In and Around Buildings, Armed Forces Pest Management Board, Technical Information Memorandum No. 29, July 1994Pest and Habitat Modification/Sanitation

Carpenter Ants--Eliminate conditions that favor moisture accumulation; move and aerate firewood; remove stumps and overhanging branches contacting house as well as rotten railroad ties in landscape; remove dead trees.

Termites--Break wood-to-soil contact; remove scrap wood and paper debris; improve drainage away from the structure; inspect vapor barriers; improve ventilation in crawl spaces.

Cockroaches--Clean up spilled foods and water; eliminate harborage and pathway areas by sealing or screening; repair water leaks; increase ventilation; inspect incoming foods and packaging.

Other Ants--Remove food sources; seal all cracks and crevices; locate and eliminate nests; correct drainage in house plants; seal cracks in pavement and concrete slab.

Fleas--Vacuum carpeting and furniture; keep pets in your own yard; proper pet treatment; remove wild animals from structure.

Flying Insects--Install or repair screens; change lighting; improve drainage; remove garbage daily; keep trash cans clean and tightly covered; repair cracks around siding, windows and doors.

Pantry/Fabric Pests--Inspect foods and packaging prior to storage; store foods in glass/plastic containers; cleanup spilled foods; rotate dry goods; store only clean cloths.

Mice and Rats--Install physical barriers; eliminate food and water; remove nesting sites; inspect incoming boxes.

Squirrels/Bats/Birds--Install chimney caps and screens on roof openings; remove tree branches in contact with home; repair holes in soffit and along roof.

Source: Integrated Pest Management for Your Home, National Pest Control Association, June 1994.

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.

TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-6181

| Ohioline | Search | Fact Sheets | Bulletins |