Q:I want to have a healthy garden. I keep hearing about IPM. Could you explain it in simple terms? Barbara Davis, San Luis Obispo
A:Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a strategy for pest management based on using the least harmful environmental practices in the home and garden. Simple practices for long-term prevention and management of pest problems are often common sense IPM solutions, like choosing the right plant for the right location. A plant stressed by its environment is often more susceptible to attack by pests. The IPM solution might be to relocate it, water more, water less, or enrich the soil.
The most important IPM strategy is to correctly identify pests before treating the plant or area. The local UC Cooperative Extension Office, address below, can help you do that. Learn about the pest and its life cycle before treatment and then treat with the least toxic solution. You can often rid a plant of aphids with a strong spray from a hose rather than pesticides.
Know the good guys in your garden. A well-balanced garden is one that has beneficial insects that help control the bad guys.. The larvae of a lady beetle (good gal) looks like a black and orange Halloween monster. These homely creatures eat their weight in aphids every day. The same applies to the alligator-like green lacewing larvae and tiny flies and wasps. Know your allies. Pesticides destroy these little heroes as well as pests. While pesticides can be a part of IPM, using them as a last resort is preferable.
For more IPM strategies for safe and healthy pest control visit .
Lee Oliphant is a UC Master Gardener