Integrated Pest Management
There are essentially 4 different ways of preventing or removing pests; these are chemical, biological, physical and cultural.
Contrary to what many believe it is rare for a single control method (e.g. chemical) to be used by itself to prevent or remove pests.
The reason for this is simple; because it is rarely effective and it usually results in an increased environmental impact.
Responsible pest controllers have to meet requirements from consumers and regulators to establish and maintain pest free environments in the home and workplace whilst also adhering to a different set of requirements that place strict restrictions on the types and quantities of chemicals that can be used.
The pesticides used in pest control today are far less harmful (and usually more humane) than some of the highly toxic substances used in the past; chemicals that were not only acutely poisonous but also took decades to break down and therefore posed a threat to human & animal health for generations.
These improvements alone however are not sufficient to minimise the risks posed by pesticides but must rather be used alongside creative biological and physical control techniques in order to control the pests without causing harm to the health of humans or non-target species.
Choosing The Best Approach
A significant part of a pest controllers job involves not only confirming the presence of a particular pest but also assessing the risks of a pest invasion and identifying the possible routes for that invasion. By spotting potential problems before they occur and by implementing appropriate action programs we can often eliminate both the use of pesticides and the significant damage done by pests that infest homes and businesses.
Achieving this desirable outcome requires an understanding of the biology and the behaviour of the pests concerned as well as knowledge concerning the monitoring devices and exclusion techniques used to detect and deter unwanted pests.
This strategy is often referred to as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and aims to create sustainable, long-term pest control by using all the information and resources available rather than the simple reliance on the use of a number of chemicals.
The definitions and descriptions of biological, chemical, physical and cultural control methods are as follows:
- Biological - Involves the act of introducing a pests natural predators or parasites into the environment with the aim of encouraging those natural predators/parasites to flourish at the expense of the target pest.
Biological control is a useful tool for pest controllers but it has it's limitations; these are primarily caused by the fact that the pests predators or parasites will not tend to eliminate the target pest completely but will rather let it exist in a limited capacity that suits their needs and allows them to continue exploiting their target.
It is not always the case that the predator or parasite shall need to be introduced directly into the environment where the target pest is located; often the pest controller will simply create conditions that will encourage potential predators or parasites to inhabit the target area and allow them to flourish.
There are numerous examples and uses of biological pest control but its use in domestic and commercial buildings is limited. It is often seen as an environmentally friendly alternative to chemicals but in most cases physical and cultural control methods will be far more effective, practical and usually safer.
- Chemical - The use of a synthetic or natural element that will either kill the pest or inhibit its development/reproduction. Chemicals should only be applied when there is no alternative to their use and precautions must be taken to limit damage to the environment and exposure to non-target species.
When applied and used correctly the risks associated with the use of chemicals are usually far outweighed by the risks presented by the pests and their associated diseases.
- Physical - When we talk about physical pest control we are referring to the use of mechanical and non-mechanical devices to prevent pest access and to aid the removal or destruction of an infestation. This can include anything from insect screens and bristle strips (used on the base of doors) to steam machines that we use to destroy bedbug eggs and nymphs. It is not meant to infer an act of trying to control an infestation by hand but does include the use of traps and air rifles that may be used to control pigeons and other vermin.
In most respects physical pest control focuses on prevention and its techniques represent some of the safest and most environmentally friendly pest control measures that we have at our disposal.
- Cultural - This refers to controlling, changing or manipulating the environmental and human factors that may cause or encourage a pest infestation.
Probably the most important cultural aspect that needs to be considered involves the processes and attitudes that exist towards general hygiene procedures. Part of these processes would often involve looking at the measures that are in place to aid the attainment of hygiene standards; an example of this would be in the design of a food manufacturing business where the design of the premises can have a big impact on the ease with which it can be cleaned.
The effectiveness of any cultural control practices in use will often be the determining factor in assessing the likely risks of a pest infestation. Cultural control represents the single most effective set of measures that can be implemented to prevent pest infestations and it usually results in the lowest impact to the environment.
Traps vs Pesticides
Many consumers will often show a preference for a particular control method and whilst this can often be accommodated the techniques used to control the pests are largely dictated by the type, location and the level of infestation.
Once an infestation has taken hold in a premise it would usually require a tougher approach to achieve the initial control before preventative measures can be implemented. For those looking to prevent pest problems and reduce costs an Integrated Pest Management system isn't just an efficient approach to pest management it's an absolute must.
It is important to point out that organising an Integrated Pest Management system does not have to be expensive or require regular input from a pest control operative. The successful implementation of an I.P.M program relies largely on those who inhabit the property and operate within it.
To get more information and remove pests from your property contact us on 0131 623 1806