Editor’s Note: Pest management professionals (PMPs) know that integrated pest management (IPM) relies on a mix of common-sense practices. But sometimes it’s difficult to convey the concept to your commercial and industrial customers. What follows is Take Care Termite & Pest Control’s Raymond Web’s explanation of IPM in laymen’s terms, so that your contacts at these accounts can help you help them with their pest problems with a solid IPM program.
The concept of IPM uses current, scientific information of the pests and how they interact with their environment. This knowledge is further incorporated into pest management methods that are used to curtail the damage caused by pests in the most economically sustainable way possible. This approach is applicable to both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, such as your home, garden and workplace. In food processing and manufacturing accounts, a written IPM program sets a standard as to how the facility will manage the necessary programs to reduce the potential of pests infecting any foods produced. The IPM program is important, as it is required for third-party and internal audits to show that the necessary precautions were taken.
The main aspects of the IPM program are a result of the individual facility’s assessment, which has to cover all the areas in and around the facility — as well as evaluate the practices, historical data and conditions that affect the IPM program. This must be performed once every year, or at a time when a pest population may jeopardize the hygienic safety of the workplace. This assessment is helpful in finding out what pest prevention measures can be taken for a certain project. The outcome and results of these assessments must be recorded and used to further develop and update an IPM program.
A good IPM program relies mostly on good food safety programs, like self-inspection and preventative maintenance. Here is a breakdown of its seven basic steps:
- Regular inspection. The foundation of any good IPM program consists of routine pest inspections, covering areas where the pests are most likely to inhabit, such as storage areas, water sources, where food is stored and places of entry.
- Preventative actions. The best way to combat pest infestations is by taking preventative action that tackles the smaller problems before they become big problems. This requires regular maintenance and thorough cleanings to prevent pests from entering the property. You have to be very thorough in your cleanings and cover every corner and hidden crevice. Make sure that all the points of entry on your property are protected by pest barriers like fly screens, sealing up any cracks and crevices that cut off the entry of pests.
- Proper pest identification. Different pests behave differently from one another. Identify which of the pests are harmful so it is easier to take the appropriate actions in the best way possible without harming any other living organisms. The treatment process usually starts with identifying the pests involved before taking any action. Make sure that your pest management specialist is well versed in pest identification and behavior.
- Thorough analysis. After identifying the pests that inhabit the property, find out what is attracting and sustaining the pest population. Another big factor is how the pests are entering the property. The answers to these questions will help in choosing the best pest control methods for the account.
- Correct treatment method(s). Choosing the correct treatment plan is important to eradicate the problems caused by pest infestations. You need to ensure that all treatment options in your pest management program will be effective against pest infestations without posing any risk to health, non-target organisms and the environment.
- Monitor, monitor, monitor. Be vigilant and keep on monitoring the property for signs of pest activity. The chances are that your pest management professional visits your facility on a regular basis, so you and your staff need to be well acquainted with your IPM program and report any signs of pest activity.
- Maintain accurate pest control records. A food safety auditor’s visit can greatly affect your business. In many cases, pest control is accountable for 20 percent of the total score, so it is important to have a good IPM program in place. Having up-to-date documentation is one of the first signs that your business takes pest control seriously.