IPM and Beneficial Insects

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Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a well-rounded management approach to pest control. Damage to plants by pests is minimized by prevention and control techniques that get at the root causes of the problem. Prevention is achieved through good cultural practices, choosing pest-resistant plant varieties, encouraging beneficial insects, and close monitoring of pest population levels. Once a pest problem has developed, control may be achieved through physical removal of the pests, biological controls, use of a pesticide, or other means. Often, control is as simple as pruning out an infested branch.

Insects are beneficial for many reasons, including their role in pollination. Often, the term beneficial insect refers to those that help control insect pests by serving as predators or parasites. By sustaining a population of beneficial insects, you achieve a natural pest maintenance program in your garden. Tiny parasitic wasps are aggressive beyond their size when it comes to pursuing aphids and caterpillars. Lacewing larvae and ladybug

larvae and adults make inroads into aphid populations. Spiders are also an asset in the control of garden pests. Other biological controls include certain insect growth regulators (hormones), sexual attractants (pheromones), and bacteria that produce toxins lethal to certain insects.

To learn more about Integrated Pest Management in North Carolina, conduct an internet search using the words Extension Gardener Handbook and North Carolina. This will bring you to the newly updated and revised publication that is used in training Extension Master Gardener Volunteers. Chapter 8 covers Integrated Pest Management and the handbook which can be downloaded for free is an excellent resource related to edible and ornamental gardening in North Carolina.