You have an earth-friendly office, sustainable food, fair trade clothes and up-cycled furniture. It’s only natural that when summer pests start creeping in, you’d prefer to handle them using green pest control methods.
Green pest control is about working with nature, rather than against it, by applying Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques. IPM was originally developed for agricultural use but has been increasingly adapted homes, schools and workplaces to control pests as naturally as possible. At its core, IPM is about pinpointing the source of a pest problem and then controlling it using methods that pose the least risk to humans, property and the environment. Chemical applications are used as minimally as possible, and products with the least toxicity are favored.
Integrated Pest Management 101
Recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, IPM combines extensive knowledge about pests with commonsense practices to keep pest problems down. It’s a multi-tiered process that involves a series of decisions, evaluations and controls, including:
Setting thresholds. How many pests constitute an infestation? Seeing a few ants in your home doesn’t necessarily mean pest control is required, so one of the first steps of IPM is to determine at which point a pest problem is large or nuisance enough to take action.
Monitoring and identifying. Because the success of IPM hinges on understanding the biology and habits of the pest, it’s important to accurately identify the pest in question before taking any action. For example, an ant infestation may be treated differently depending on the specific type of ant. Once the pest is correctly identified, a green pest control expert will monitor the infestation to determine where it originated and where its nests or hives are located. This allows the professional to use the right type of control method in the appropriate places.
Prevention. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention – the best green pest control method is to avoid an infestation in the first place. Think of prevention as your first line of defense against pests. This phase of IPM may include sealing up any openings in the building to prevent pests from entering (known as exclusion); eliminating food and water sources; bringing in pest-resistant plants; and getting rid of potential nesting sites.
Control. When preventative methods are not available or effective, a pest specialist will evaluate the different control methods available based on the type of pest, location and other environmental factors. The most effective, least risky option is always chosen first. These can include traps, disrupting the mating process and other natural removal methods. If these techniques don’t work, the most appropriate, least toxic pest control application is used in targeted areas, such as at identified nesting sites. A green pest control company will broadly employ pesticides (around the perimeter of a home for ant control, for example) only as a last resort.
How You Can Practice Green Pest Control at Home or Work
Eliminate food sources and nesting sites. Green pest control can be as simple as using a lidded trashcan and not leaving food out in the open. Attractive food sources for pests can include pet food; crumbs on the floor; food in a pantry that’s not in a strong, lidded container; leaky pipes; rotten vegetables in gardens; and compost piles that aren’t maintained well. Nesting sites may include pools of standing water, weeds, woodpiles, linens, paper waste (old newspapers in the garage, for example) and within the walls of a building.
Don’t allow pests to enter the building. Seal cracks on the outside of your home or business that are 1/8 inch or larger; do the same on the walls inside. When sealing a building, don’t forget to check the laundry vents, utility openings, outside faucets and gas meters. Use weather stripping to seal your windows as well as sweeps on the bottom of doors. Then, if you like fresh air, install or repair screens over windows and doors that tend to remain open.
Green pest control isn’t just better for the environment – safer for people and pets. And the IPM techniques listed above are often more cost effective than traditional pest control methods, thanks to their efficiency and effectiveness.