Understanding human behavior as part of the IPM process

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July 14, 2021

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July 14, 2021


PHOTO: KAMELEON007/ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS/GETTY IMAGES

PHOTO: KAMELEON007/ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS/GETTY IMAGES

There are lots of ways to practice integrated pest management (IPM), but many pest management professionals (PMPs) would agree that IPM includes sanitation, exclusion and chemical control elements as part of a multifaceted approach to managing pest populations.

Many PMPs also would agree that one of the biggest hurdles to implementing a successful IPM program for clients are the clients themselves.

A commonly recommended IPM tactic is to keep doors and windows closed to keep flying insects from entering a building. Yet, why do we find this suggestion so often ignored? Here are a few questions to consider that could help get to the root cause:

  • Why is the door propped open? This might seem like a silly question, since people need to walk through it. But there are plenty of doors people walk through all the time that aren’t physically propped open.
  • What makes this one different? Do workers frequently carry items back and forth through the door with their hands full, for example? Maybe an automatic door would be better.
  • Is it because the door locks behind you after it is closed? Perhaps the door could be left unlocked during business hours, or some other solution could be found that would eliminate the need for propping it open.
  • What’s on the other side of the door? We’ve all seen employee picnic tables and smoking areas on the other side of a propped open exterior door. Is this where deliveries are made? Is there a trash bin outside the door? Maybe moving whatever’s on the other side to a place that doesn’t require door propping would be a better option.

Certainly, budget limitations can affect how quickly (and effectively) your exclusion recommendations are executed. And operational constraints can make sanitation tricky. But the biggest hurdle almost always is people.

By taking a closer look and understanding the underlying behaviors that are making effective pest management more difficult, the root cause can be addressed. Everybody wins.

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About the Author

Dr. Jim Fredericks

You can reach Dr. Fredericks, VP of technical and regulatory affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), at jfredericks@pestworld.org.

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