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What are the six steps of the IPM process?

Continuing with our Integrated Pest Management series, we will now be looking into the six steps of the IPM process and what each step entails.

Make sure you read our blog article “IPM…say what”, for detailed information about why it is important to create an IPM programme for your business and the benefits it brings.

Below are the general six steps of the IPM process which will help guide you in the right direction when creating an IPM programme for your business.

STEP 1: UNDERSTANDING AND EDUCATING THE CUSTOMER

Most pest control in and around buildings is a service to the occupants and is performed at their request. The IPM process therefore typically begins with people rather than pests. Customer relations are always a two-way street. Educating the customer about pest management is essential, but it is much more effective if the pest controller first understands customer concerns and expectations. Education begins by explaining whether the concerns are warranted and the expectations attainable. As in any service occupation, the ability to listen to and communicate with people is essential.

STEP 2: ANALYSING THE PEST PROBLEM

It is simple to identify most pests and why they are present, but an understanding of structural engineering and design may be needed to determine the source of an infestation. Critical components monitoring includes not only acknowledging presence and level of infestation of the pest, but also accurately identifying the pest and acquiring knowledge of its habits, needs and life cycles. The requirements of the customer also need to be considered.

Inspection, continuous sampling, and use of survey devices that will result in accurate recorded pest counts are emphasized. Monitoring goes on in identified zones of potential infestation and is intensified in infested target sites. Non-target areas are not monitored.

Record books or logs are placed in central areas or management units. Records contain monitoring counts; sanitation, maintenance, and personnel practice problems; pesticide use, formulations, and amounts. Records should be accessible to pest management technicians and client supervisors.

Determine the action threshold:
Action thresholds are determined by factors such as severity of the injury caused by the pest, site characteristics and use requirements, health concerns related to the pest, and site user needs.

To be effective, pest management must be desired by the client. Pests should be reduced to a level acceptable to the client. To achieve these goals, the pest technician interacts actively with the client.

STEP 3: TAKING SHORT-TERM CORRECTIVE ACTION

Although IPM emphasizes a “preventive maintenance” approach to pest problems, the real world often demands immediate corrective action. In many cases, the use of pesticides for this purpose is unavoidable. However, all concerned must understand that every corrective action will employ the least toxic method.

All practical measures to suppress the pest population to a tolerable level should be considered:

  • Cultural controls – e.g., regular cleaning schedule, garbage elimination, changes in worker procedures.
  • Physical modifications and maintenance changes – e.g., screening, caulking, etc.
  • Biological controls – e.g., parasites and pathogens.
  • Pesticides – with preference for low exposure e.g. baits, dusts, gels and pastes.

The selected method(s) must balance considerations of economics, efficacy, worker/public health and safety, and potential hazards to property and the environment.

STEP 4: IMPLEMENTING LONG-TERM PREVENTIVE ACTION

Ongoing, “built-in” control actions indirectly reduce pests by minimizing their food, harbourage, and access. These actions are the heart of the IPM process and a fundamental measure of its success. Sanitation and exclusion may be difficult to plan, coordinate, and execute but are critical for success. Pest prevention, the “applied facilities management” aspect of IPM, requires that the pest controller have as thorough a knowledge of building operations as of pest biology. For IPM to work, those responsible for sanitation and building maintenance must cooperate with the pest controllers.

Step 5: Monitoring, Documenting and Evaluating Results

Accurate record keeping is necessary to document IPM successes. Not only is methodical record keeping an important tool providing historical data, but it can help the manager evaluate control techniques over time. After pest management practices are incorporated, their efficacy must be evaluated. Decisions to continue, to increase, or to suspend a pest management practice should be made only considering the effects of its previous use. Evaluations can be educational in the long run and are an especially crucial feature of IPM.

Site-specific factors such as pest-infected are size, exact location, population estimates, damage amounts, symptoms, dates, and, where appropriate, weather conditions leading up to infestation are types of information that should be recorded. When examined in relation to the effect of current IPM practices, such information allows pest managers to make informed decisions. As a rule, thorough record keeping provides a database from which future pest management decisions can be made.

In conclusion, urban IPM programmes are based on the same basic philosophies that agricultural IPM programmes are. Minor differences occur because urban IPM involves pest/human interactions that may occur in buildings or landscapes in which health and social concerns are crucial factors. Inspection and monitoring tools dictate the application of various management tactics through a decision-making process that considers potential injury by pests as well as potential injury from pest control tactics. Urban IPM strategies are, ultimately, a compilation of many commonsense decisions based on sound understanding of the pest, the environment, and the social implications of one or more control tactics.

Step 6: Getting Back to the Customer

Measurement of customer satisfaction is easy to ignore, but critical for programme viability. The pes controller’s own performance evaluation may not totally coincide with the opinions of others who are more directly affected by the pest problem. customer satisfaction is a prerequisite for program support.

Article source: Pest Management Academy – Skill Program NQF Level 4.

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