Pest Control Through Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices to keep pests from invading your home, damaging plants, and becoming a persistent annoyance. 

IPM programs combine several methods to prevent and manage pest problems using comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

IPM applies of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the prudent use of pesticides. Using pesticides may be an option, but when nonchemical methods are used first, pesticides are often not needed.

Here are steps to manage pests around your home and garden:

Correctly identify pests

Identify your pest to be sure the management method you choose will be effective. If you aren't sure what your pest is, use the tools on this website or contact your local UC Cooperative Extension Office for help. Find out if the pest is a problem that needs to be controlled and learn about its life cycle and biology.

Consider what preventive or nonchemical methods can be used to reduce the problem.

Combine several of these methods from the following categories for best results:


Prevent pests from invading or building up their populations in the first place. This might include removing the pests' sources of food, water, and shelter, or blocking their access into buildings or plants.

Good gardening practices

Standard gardening practices are things you can do to discourage pest invasion. These include removing debris and infested plant material, proper watering and fertilizing, growing competitive plants, or using pest resistant plants.

Physical or mechanical controls

Control pests with physical methods or mechanical devices such as removing pests from plants with a spray of water, using barriers and traps, and cultivating. 

Soil Solarization

Also consider soil solarization, using the sun’s power to control pests such as bacteria, insects, and weeds in the soil.The process involves covering the ground with a tarp. The sun heats the soil to temperatures that kill bacteria, fungi, insects, nematodes, mites, weeds, and weed seeds.


Biological control

Biological control is the use of natural enemies to manage pests. Encourage these beneficial organisms by planting flowering and nectar-producing plants and avoiding the use of pesticides. If effective nonchemical methods are not available, contemplate using pesticides.


Pesticides can be part of IPM, but only as a last resort and after other methods have proven to be ineffective. Make sure that the pest problem is serious enough to warrant the use of a pesticide. Always use the least toxic, yet effective, supplies available. Take care to use them in ways that reduce human and pet exposure and protect the environment.

Combine pesticide methods with other preventive actions. Once pests are under control, use preventive non-chemical methods to keep them from coming back. 

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