Integrated Pest Management (IPM): A Trend with Staying Power

By Greg Baumann, National Pest Management Association

Integrated Pest Management, commonly referred to as IPM, is a trend that has demonstrated "staying power" within the pest management industry. IPM, as defined by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is a process involving common sense and sound solutions for controlling pests. The focus is upon finding the best strategy for a pest problem, and not merely the simplest.  Pest professionals never employ a "one-size-fits-all" method in IPM, but rather, utilize a three-part practice: 1) inspection, 2) identification and 3) treatment by a pest professional.  Treatment options in IPM can vary from sealing cracks to removing food and water sources to employing pest products, when necessary.

The top priority of IPM is to protect public health and property. Therefore, it is imperative that association managers have the best information and a variety of pest control options available to them.  IPM programs should be designed within the comprehensive and holistic definition provided above - a definition, which provides association managers with a multitude of proactive and reactive measures to protect their residents from the risks associated with pest infestations.  

Further, the "integrated" in Integrated Pest Management does not merely describe the three-part practice of inspection, identification and treatment.  It also reflects the joint commitment between association managers and pest professionals toward making condominium communities pest-free environments.  Cooperation is critical because it sustains the individualized approach of IPM.  A multi-party effort to implement IPM encourages a stronger commitment to assessing each situation uniquely and developing a comprehensive cure to each pest problem.  Treatments can and should include daily preventative measures (proper disposal of garbage), long-term preventative measures (responding to maintenance issues in a timely manner) and reactive measure (applying pest control products).   IPM is most effective when there is a true partnership between associations and pest professionals.

Why You Should Know about Integrated Pest Management  
The fact remains - pests can have harmful effects upon health and property.  Common pests that are routinely found in homes include cockroaches, rodents, ants and termites.  It is unsettling to think of your community members sharing their condominiums with these pests because of the serious risks they pose.  Consider these facts:

  • The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) currently reports that one-in-five children in the United States has severe sensitivities to cockroach allergens, which increase the severity of asthma symptoms.  
  • Rodents can chew through electrical wiring, increasing the potential risk of fire.  
  • Ants, which are social insects, are not simply unsightly - they can also be dangerous contaminants to food.  
  • Queen termites can lay thousands of eggs each day, allowing termite colonies to grow exponentially in a short amount of time.   

Even in briefly examining the threats posed by these pests, it is clear that prevention can be as important to pest control as treatment, thus the emphasis placed upon developing a partnership with a pest professional.  Here are just a few pest prevention techniques, which can be employed by association managers within a properly implemented IPM program.

  • Dispose of garbage regularly and store in sealed containers.
  •  Keep basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  •  Look for rodent droppings and gnawing marks, which indicate a pest problem; determine where the rodents are gaining entry and eliminate entry.
  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the condominiums, including entry points for utilities and pipes.
  • Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed.
  •  Repair decaying exterior wood on condominiums as some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood.
  • Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around basement foundation and windows.
  • Don't overlook proper drainage at the foundation; install a drainage system, which will channel water away from the home.
  •  Make sure that there is no standing water on flat roofs
  • Respond quickly to resident complaints or reports of pest problems

A Final Note on Integrated Pest Management
Integrated pest management is not a passing fad in the pest profession.  Rather, it is an approach that should be thoughtfully considered by association managers when selecting a pest control firm. IPM allows association managers to best protect their community's health and property through a variety of pest management options while also encouraging a strong working relationship with their local licensed pest professional.  Ultimately, this collaborative effort can lead to more sustained and successful pest prevention and treatment, which is critical to the contentment and satisfaction of all community members.  

Greg Baumann is the vice president of technical services and senior scientist for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).   The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 5, 000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property, reflected in the continuing education of the pest control professional and the dissemination of timely information to homeowners and businesses.  For more information on pests, pest-related topics or to find a pest professional, please visit www.pestworld.org.  

**From Condo Management Magazine