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Pest Management

The goal of pest management is to keep damaging organisms below levels that homeowners find unacceptable. To achieve this, deny them the food, shelter and moisture they need to survive.

Long-term prevention relies on biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices and the use of resistant plant varieties. Chemical controls are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed and with an eye toward minimizing risks to people, beneficial insects and the environment. Click Here to know more.

Integrated pest management, or IPM, involves a wide variety of methods to keep pests at bay without the use of harmful chemicals. The goal is to prevent pests from damaging property or causing health hazards. It starts with understanding a pest’s life cycle, which includes egg, nymph, pupal and adult stages. This knowledge helps you recognize a pest infestation before it causes significant damage and determine which control measures to use.

Preventing pests is possible by making it difficult for them to find food, water or shelter. This is done by good sanitation, removing debris and infested plant material, keeping food in tightly sealed containers, placing trash cans far away from entrances, sealing gaps and cracks with caulking or steel wool, and planting competitive plants that repel pests. Other preventive measures include the use of sticky traps to catch rodents, removing bird feeders and installing door sweeps or insect screens to keep out birds and insects. Planting in-field insectary plantings, also known as conservation biological control (CBC), helps to keep crop pest populations at acceptable levels by enhancing the populations of natural enemies that naturally keep pest numbers in check.

Rodents and insects can cause serious problems for a facility, site or farm by chewing through wood to build nests, spreading diseases by their droppings and introducing allergens in the form of fecal matter, cast skins or spider webs. They can leave behind a foul odor, chewed-through electrical wires and structural damage and may carry bacteria such as salmonella, which can be a severe health threat for patients in hospitals or workers at other facilities.

A hospital, for example, cannot afford to have pests such as rodents or cockroaches intruding. They present a real disease risk for patients and staff, can affect the reputation of a facility and are an obstacle to meeting accreditation or licensing standards. Environmental services (EVS) managers must implement an IPM program that incorporates prevention, monitoring and if necessary, corrective actions such as pesticides. Educating employees on the importance of their roles in the program and how they influence its performance will help secure buy-in and ensure success.


A pest is any organism that negatively impacts agricultural crops, such as rodents or weeds. A variety of tactics can be used to prevent or suppress pests, including identifying and eliminating sources of food for them, removing their breeding grounds, or altering their environment in ways that make it difficult for them to survive (see Prevention).

Many pests are suppressed naturally by the actions of natural enemies, which can include preying on or parasitizing them. For example, predators may reduce the number or feeding activities of herbivores, relieving pressure on crop plants; or, parasitoids in a trophic cascade can disrupt an entire food chain by killing higher-level grazers. Natural enemy presence and effectiveness in reducing pest damage are important components of integrated pest management strategies (IPM), which aim to restrict levels of crop damage below an economic threshold without the use of chemical controls.

Some pests are able to avoid the effects of their natural enemies, however, and must be controlled directly with chemicals. In order to prevent these chemicals from becoming overused, IPM focuses on assessing pest populations and developing action thresholds, the level at which control measures should be taken (see Thresholds). A key factor in setting thresholds is determining what kind of environmental conditions support or inhibit the activity of a particular pest population, i.e. what factors influence whether a pest population can cause unacceptable injury to a given system or crop.

For example, the effectiveness of some natural enemies declines as a result of distance from seminatural habitat. Consequently, some researchers have explored how landscape configuration can affect the ability of natural enemies to suppress crop pests. In one study, ant grazers in sun-grown Brazilian coffee fields increased with the proximity of adjacent forests, and parasitoids in irrigated rice agroecosystems increased with the physical connectivity of hedgerows and other seminatural habitats.

Viewing pest suppression through a multitrophic lens, however, may reveal causal pathways not accounted for by most research and could change the conclusions about how landscape composition affects pest suppression. In particular, the strength of intraguild predation, in which higher-level grazers feed on each other, can vary with landscape composition and configuration (see arrows a and b in Figure 2 below). This can dampen or otherwise complicate the effects of trophic cascades on herbivores and, hence, on pest suppression.


Eradication refers to the permanent removal of a pest from an area to the extent that it is unlikely to recolonize. Eradication programs must be designed carefully to minimize the risk of disease and disruption of natural ecosystems. The term eradication is derived from the Latin verb eradicare, meaning “to pull up by the roots.” In linguistics, eradicate has a long history of use, and it has come to mean something like “pull out” or even “kill.”

NMSU Pest Management professionals utilize a wide range of preventive, suppression, and eradication control methods. Preventive controls, such as removing or altering habitat, limit pests by restricting their access to the food, water, and shelter they need. Suppression methods, such as removing or applying chemicals to the plant at a time when it is least vulnerable, reduce pest population growth by restricting their ability to reproduce. Eradication strategies, such as the destruction or burial of a pest species, remove entire populations of the organism to the point that it can no longer sustain itself.

All pest control strategies impact other organisms in some way, and most treatment sites are disturbed to some degree. It is important to understand how this impacts the actions and well-being of other organisms at a treatment site and the overall ecosystem. In particular, when a pesticide is used, it may negatively affect the behavior or health of its natural enemies or other beneficial insects or animals living in or around the treatment site. This can be minimized by using less persistent pesticides, properly timing chemical applications to avoid exposure at susceptible life stages of the target pest, and avoiding contact between beneficial organisms and pesticide residues.

In addition, biological controls, such as the conservation and mass rearing of natural enemies, can help to reduce pest densities. The key is to select and release natural enemies with good traits, such as high reproductive potential and a preference for the target pest over other hosts, or pathogens that injure or kill them.

The word pest, or invasive organism, refers to any undesirable living thing that invades and displaces native plants or disrupts terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems. These organisms can be invertebrates (insects, nematodes, fungi, etc.) or vertebrates (fish, birds, mammals, and amphibians). Invasive plants can also have a negative effect on human crops, forests, and landscapes.


Monitoring is a key component of Integrated Pest Management, a multi-prong approach to safeguarding collections while minimizing the use of toxic chemical pesticides. Historically, heritage custodians used all sorts of chemicals to prevent collection pests from damaging their buildings and exhibits, but these methods have serious negative impacts on the environment and human health. Instead, heritage custodians should implement a prevention-oriented approach that includes good housekeeping practices, excluding pests from the building, monitoring and treatment as needed.

Monitoring helps us understand what the problem is, how bad it is, and where it’s located. Monitoring is done with traps and other devices that collect data on pest populations (such as number of flies caught in sticky spheres or the presence of fungus-eating plaster beetles) and habitat. This information is useful in determining the level of threat that a pest poses, whether or not it requires control and the best timing of intervention.

Observing changes in pest populations over time allows us to identify patterns. This can help us understand what is driving the population changes, such as a change in host or environmental conditions. Monitoring can also be helpful in identifying a new pest species or even the discovery of a disease vector.

Monitoring can be used to establish an action threshold (the point above which damage is unacceptable). A variety of models exist that can help you determine an EIL or economic injury level for various pests and crop types, taking into account factors like market value, management costs and environmental conditions.

Another function of monitoring is to allow us to monitor for resistance in the landscape and across the region. This information can be used to develop resistant cultivars and help reduce the need for chemical controls in the future.

Monitoring is not only useful for protecting collections, but can also be an important tool for other landowners in the community. Sharing positive results in newsletters and public meetings can help boost support for a program, and keep participants motivated to continue their efforts. Monitoring can also help us communicate the benefits of a project to potential donors, helping to justify further funding for a project.