Integrated Pest Management strategies to control pests

Pesticides can be easily found in stores and are available for anyone to use. But do you know?? According to WHO, 250,000 death occurs every year due to agricultural pesticide poisoning. Pesticides are an easy way to control pests and increase production but may come at cost of your health or sometimes even your life. There are many other natural and friendly ways to control pest on which we will focus in this article:

What is a pest?

Pest is any unwanted organism harmful to crops or food resources. It includes a wide range of living organisms like insects, rodents, pathogen, nematodes, weeds, birds, or other animals which cause damage to crops and its stored products.


What is a pesticide?

Pesticides are the chemical compounds designed to be harmful to targeted unwanted pests. 


What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?

IPM is a method of pest management in an environmentally friendly, socially acceptable, sustainable, and economic way. It is a combination of different pest management strategies to mitigate the effect of pests on plant production.

Actions targeted only to specific pests are taken. It suppress the pest populations below the economic injury level (EIL). It differs from the organic method of crop production. It combines different types of controls ranging from hand removal of pests (mechanical removal) to use of traditional synthetic pesticides in a sensible way.


Advantages of the IPM method of pest control over chemical pesticides.

  • It is a sustainable bio-based method of pest control.
  • Promotes healthy growth of plants and reduces environmental risk.
  • Reduces air and ground water contamination.
  • Protects non-targeted species.
  • Cost-effectiveness.
  • Has nil or minimal residues on food and water. Hence, pesticide toxicity can be prevented.
  • Specific pests are targeted and controlled so biological diversity is protected.


Strategies used in IPM for pest control

1. Use of resistant varieties:

– Crop varieties resistant or tolerant to pest attack can be selected and used.

– Advantage: – best solution for  improved production by limiting pest. Also, a permanent solution as the plant itself fights back the pest.

– Disadvantages: – Resistant varieties are not available for all pests.


2. Using cultural methods:

a) Proper sanitation, tillage, and water management create a favorable environment for crops and an unfavorable environment for pests to develop.

b) Use of clean seed or planting material reduces the chances of pest infestation from the beginning.

c) Changing the time of sowing (slightly faster or late) also helps to create an unfavorable environment for pests as pests need specific climatic and plant conditions to thrive.

d) Disposing of the plant parts infected by pest by burning or covering deep under the soil.

e) Mixed cropping decreases the host plant availability for pest and also increase the habitat for predators. Thus, mixed cropping of companion plants can be highly beneficial.

f) Using trap crop to attract the pests away from the main crop. 


3. Using physical and mechanical methods:

a) Collecting and destroying eggs, larva, pupa, or adult of harmful insects from the field.

b) Using different kinds of traps:

– Light trap: Used for flying insects that are nocturnal in nature and attracted to light. Fluorescent lamps, LED lamps, or mercury vapor lamps are used to attract insects to the trap. Insects are collected and destroyed.

– Yellow and other sticky traps: Used for small flying insects. Insects are attracted to trap using bright colors or other chemical lures. Insects stick on the trap which is later collected and destroyed.

– Pheromone traps: Funnel trap, delta trap, water-pan trap, etc. are pheromone traps. Pheromones are chemical attractants that are used to lure insects to the traps. These are generally sex pheromones and aggregation pheromones. Example: methyl eugenol, cue lure, heli lure, spodo lure, etc. These traps can control even a small population of insects.

– Pitfall trap: This trap is used for trapping terrestrial and soil-dwelling pests like rodents, slugs, snails, larvae of beetles, etc. A small bucket-like container is placed buried with its lid rim at the soil surface.

c) Using nets to protect from birds.


4. Using Biological Methods:

Different organisms like predator and parasitoid insects, bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes, and competitors are used as biological control methods. These organisms are natural enemies of the pests. They should be introduced in the field where they attack the pest to kill the harmful pests. But be careful to select useful and unharmful natural predators.

– Some natural predators:

a) Ladybird beetle: They feed on aphids, mites, scale insects and small caterpillars.

b) Cats: Predators for rodent pests.

c) Assassin bug: They feed on leafhoppers, caterpillars, aphids, etc.

d) Predatory lacewings: They feed on aphids, mites, mealybugs, thrips, moth eggs, small caterpillars, etc.

e) Praying mantids: They feed on moths, beetles, caterpillars, aphids, flies, etc.

– Types of Predators:

a) Parasitoids: Kill pests by parasitizing their body. Eggs of these insects are laid on or in the body of host insects and when eggs hatch the larvae feed on the host eventually killing them. Examples: Braconid wasp, Trichogramma wasp, Ichneumon wasp, Chalcid wasp, etc.

b) Pathogens (Bacteria, Fungi, and virus):

-Bacteria control the pests by infecting the digestive tract. The most commonly used bacteria for controlling beetles, moths, butterflies, etc. is Bacillus thuringiensis. 

-Entomopathogenic fungi causing disease in insects are used as biological control agents. Example: Beauveria bassiana against whiteflies, thrips, weevils, and aphids, Purpureocillium lilacinus against root-knot nematodes, several strains of Trichoderma against different fungal diseases of the plant.

-Different NPV (Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus).

c) Nematodes: Example; Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita nematode kills slugs and snails.


5. Use of less known biopesticides:

These pesticides are less known and researched, yet found to be effective in farmer’s practice. Some of them are:

-Cow urine mixed with water (10:90) acts as an insect repellent in plants.

-Soap, vegetable oil, and water mixture for aphid control.

-Baking soda mixed with a few drops of soap and vegetable oil and then well diluted can be used for fungal problems.

-Milk and water (10:90) can be used against powdery mildew.

-Wood ash for fungal and insect problems.

-Mixture of chili pepper and vinegar for aphids, caterpillar, and earwigs.


6. Chemical control methods:

This method is used as the last resort if other methods are unable to control the pest population and the production is thought to be affected. Chemicals are used carefully in correct doses. Mild chemicals are used as far as possible.

Haphazard use of chemical pesticide to control pest cause pesticide residue on products which can cause different health problems in human. Not the only plant produces but soil and water also store pesticide residues which continue to contaminate crop products for a long period of time.



IPM is an intermediate method between organic and chemical methods of pest control. This method is equally applicable for small scale home gardeners to large scale commercial farmers. A wise selection of strategies after understanding the problem gives the best result in IPM.



Surendra K Dara. The New Integrated Pest Management Paradigm for the Modern Age. 2019. Journal of Integrated Pest Management, Volume 10.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is Integrated Pest Management?

– It is the integrated approach for economic and environmental friendly pest management. Example: Biological control and Mechanical methods.


2. Methods used in IPM?

– Use of Pest resistant varieties
– Biological control method
– Physical and mechanical control method
– Use of mulch
– Use of cultural and traditional methods


3. Steps in IPM management?

– Problem and responsible pests identification.
– Understanding life cycle, biology and habitat preferences of pest.
– Set action threshold (how much level pest control action will be done).
– Select appropriate management tactics.
– Application of selected tactics
– Evaluation


4. Goal of IPM?

– It is not to eliminate all pests but is to keep essential pests and removes or kills unwanted pests. 


How do you feel about this article? Please don’t forget to mention your valuable comments and suggestions below in comment box. Happy reading and Keep supporting “Learn-Agro”.

Barsha Bhandari

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  1. A very interesting article. I thought they were part of pilea peperomioids. These nasturtium grow like weeds where I live in southern part of South Africa. The only problems are snails. They are hardy and face drought conditions well. We don’t get frost. I love them xx

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