Pasadena Learning Gardens

Resourcing communities to create a healthier more sustainable future

Pest Control Strategies

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What is Integrated Pest Management?  from UC Davis

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a strategy that uses environmentally sound, yet effective, ways to keep pests from invading your home, damaging your plants, or annoying you. Successful IPM usually combines several methods for long-term prevention and management of pest problems without harming you, your family, or the environment.  In IPM, using pesticides may be an option, but when other nonchemical methods are used first, pesticides are often not needed.

See the official University of California IPM definition.

Follow these steps to manage pests around your home and garden:

  1. Identify your pest correctly 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 Web site 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.
  2. Determine if there are preventive or nonchemical methods you can use to reduce the problem.  For best results, combine several methods from the following categories:
    • Prevention: 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.
    • Cultural controls: Cultural practices are things you can do to discourage pest invasion such as good sanitation, 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 knocking pests off of plants with a spray of water, using barriers and traps, cultivating, soil solarization, or heat treatments.
    • Biological control: Biological control is the use of beneficial organisms (called natural enemies) to manage pests. Encourage natural enemies by planting flowering and nectar-producing plants and avoiding the use of broad-spectrum pesticides.
  3. If effective nonchemical methods are not available, consider using pesticides.
    • Pesticides can be part of IPM, but use them only as a last resort and only after you have tried other methods.  Be sure that your pest problem is serious enough to warrant a pesticide treatment. Always use the least toxic, yet effective, materials available and use them in ways that reduce human and pet exposure and protect the environment.
    • Combine pesticide treatments with other preventive methods to discourage pests from coming back.

Great Resources:


Author: Mark Rice

I’m a UC Master Gardener with a huge interest in growing my own food, beekeeping, medicinal herbs and living sustainably. I also have a passion to share these journeys with like minded souls. I work with many off site communities and manage an educational organization and two outdoor learning facilities.

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