Pests, such as insects, weeds, and pathogens, can be found almost everywhere and often need to be managed. Figuring out when and how to manage pests can be difficult but integrated pest management, or IPM, can help. IPM is a pest management strategy that emphasizes:

  • keeping pests from becoming a problem
  • using science-based guidelines, or thresholds, to determine when pests need to be managed
  • using a variety of research-based pest management options (e.g., biological control, mechanical control, chemical control)
  • minimizing human health, environmental, and economic risk when making pest management decisions

IPM is defined as “an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment.”1


IPM is a middle ground between not managing pests at all and widespread use of pesticides regardless of the pest population or risks of the pesticide.

Collage of three images. Image 1: Man applying caulk to the edge of a window. 2. Flying insect sticky traps (paper) hanging from the ceiling over plants in a greenhouse. Flying insects are trapped on the paper. 3. Small insect and insect larvae on a plant.

References Cited

1University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. 2020. What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Accessed May 2020.