AUBURN, Ala.—Pest management plans allow home gardeners and farmers to minimize damage in the garden and in the field to ensure unhindered growth. Growers have long managed home gardens with traditional pest management methods. An Alabama Cooperative Extension System specialist said there are many options in addition to traditional methods.
Dr. Ayanava Majumdar, an Alabama Extension entomologist, uses a method called integrated pest management (IPM). IPM combines a variety of tactics including cultural practices, as well as chemical controls, to manage pests in various crops.
Integrated Pest Management
IPM can be site-specific while also providing the insect control needed for a thriving garden.
“Steps to IPM include insect pest detection; identification and monitoring; and estimating population pressure and economic threshold. IPM also includes assessments of natural enemy activity and making a treatment decision as needed,” Majumdar said.
For home gardens, the steps for insect management are geared toward three popular methods. Those three are:
- Systems based practices
- Pest exclusion or mechanical removal
- Biorational or conventional insecticides
Insect pests are often most effectively managed using a combination of IPM tactics.
“Early season pest management on small plants (aphids/flea beetles/thrips) can be done using systemic insecticides that are drenched at the base of plants,” Majumdar said. “Pest exclusion using insect barrier fabrics also work well in the early season against aphids, flea beetles and grasshoppers. Thus, if pest populations are rising rapidly, treat late season crops with contact or stomach insecticides.”
Use of Insecticides
Insecticides differ depending on the mode of action. Insecticide use depends on the target insect, in addition to the convenience of the farmer or home gardener.
Majumdar recommends holding insecticides as a last resort for a home garden since many other tactics are also useful to prevent insect pest establishment.
“All insecticides are poisonous. The dosage determines what makes a material poisonous,” Majumdar said. “Even table salt is a poison for humans if we consume too much of it. In general, organic insecticide labels indicate environmental friendliness because these insecticides don’t accumulate in the environment. These are target-specific in many cases.”
For help in gardens and with small-scale production IPM recommendations, find a webpage full of IPM publications here. Additionally, Alabama Extension offers a wide array of publications from specialists who provide information for gardeners and farmers.
To learn more you may also visit www.aces.edu for additional publications and information.