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Integrated Pest Management – A Lesson in Environmental Responsibility

Insects and pests have been invading our homes and gardens since before our times in the caves.   Of the 900,000 plus currently known insect species of the world, only about one-and-a-half percent cause any health or economic concern or harm.  Many, if not most of the species of insect and pests, in fact, provide indispensable services to humans and are an integral parts to the ecosystem as a whole.  Your property and home is indeed an extension and mixture of both artificial and natural ecosystems and deserves to be treated in a responsible and environmentally friendly manner in terms of preventing and managing our unwanted intruders with respect to the environment at large.

The most ecological and responsible form of pest management today resides in the concept of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach.  IPM consists of reducing the use and need for dangerous pesticides through the use of preventative, biological, and mechanical approaches as the first line of defense against pests.  Your personal environment is an ecosystem and pests can be eliminated by using simple techniques to deprive them of their food, water, and or shelter.  Chemical pesticides should always be considered a last resort.  Rachel Carson, the author of “Silent Spring”, likened the use of chemical pesticides “As crude a weapon as the cave man’s club…” due to the fact that most pesticides kill a very broad spectrum of insects, and therefore can destroy many beneficial insects such as bees and indigenous pollinators.  Most chemical pesticides can leave residues that may remain toxic from days to weeks and sometimes even months while poisoning our storm water caches and leaching into our fragile aquifers.   Integrated Pest Management is in most cases purely common sense, such as planting particular well adapted, or insect resistant plants for the environment at hand, and the use of screens and barriers to prevent pests from entering your home or garden in the first place.  IPM can be as easy as trimming back your weeds and or keeping a clean house and yard thus denying pests their essential components for survival and sustainability.  The key to IPM and the overall reduction of pesticides in our home and environment truly comes down to a well informed property or homeowner.  There is so much information on IPM approaches available on the internet today that the majority of your pest control situations can be addressed in a simple, cost effective, and most importantly, in an ecologically conscience manner without much effort.

However, despite our best intentions, in some circumstances all of the non-toxic/chemical-free means of the IPM approach may become ineffective for the control of pests.  Therefore, chemical pesticides may become the only option remaining in which there are some major concerns to consider.  Choose pesticides carefully, keeping in mind to first use the least toxic products and ALWAYS remember to follow the directions on the label to the letter while being sure to wear the required personal protective equipment.  The label will always have directions for storing and disposing of the container or unused chemicals in a safe manner consistent with the label.  Remember to always store chemicals above the high water mark for your particular area in the event of a flood.  Any spills need to be addressed and cleaned up immediately to prevent contamination of our environment.  Safe handling of pesticides is the key to reducing the negative effects of chemicals in the environment.  If you need the services of a professional pest control company, first be sure they are fully licensed with the state pest control commission, and second, that they use the least toxic and most organic pesticides available such as Borates and Heat in conjunction with more advanced and extensive IPM techniques.

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