Why IPM is safer and more effective than organic pest control?
Many people are making the effort to live healthier lives by eating organic non GMO foods, replace traditional cleaners with eco-friendly ones, it would make sense to choose organic pest control products and services.
Organic pest control in organic farming is very different from organic pest control in homes, lawns and gardens or in organic certified production facilities. It is one thing to choose the organic carrots over the regular ones or to switch brands of detergent and quite another to achieve an organic pest control service.
There are many organic pest control products available, mostly individual compounds that are not ready to use products which comply with the USDA National Organic Program or NOP and most are also on the Organics Materials Review Institute OMRI list, but being organic certified or OMRI listed does not mean they are safe to use in a residential or commercial environments for structural or lawn and ornamental pest control.
Farmers, growers and professional pest control technicians have a high degree of knowledge in biology, chemistry, botany, agriculture, horticulture combined with years of experience and expertise finding out what works and what doesn’t. Performing an organic pest control service is not as simple as choosing an organic pesticide over a toxic synthetic.
An organic pesticide or products is simply a chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon, in organic pest control there are products that are organic like DE diatomaceous earth, others such as boric acid are inorganic but are allowed for organic pest control, some are biological like certain strains of bacteria’s like Bacillus thuringiensis Bt., and others are synthetic compounds with limited uses.
Organic certified pesticides can be very toxic if inhaled or hazardous if they come in contact with your skin or eyes, most have the same or stricter label restriction than synthetic pesticide when applied, such as the use of respirators, long sleeves and pants, suits and shoes with socks, with re-entry times of up to 12 hours which no one without the proper PPE can enter and most cannot legally be applied to homes or landscapes.
Organic products have label warnings just like synthetic pesticides “do not breath in Harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Causes moderate eye irritation. Avoid breathing dust or spray mist. Avoid contact with skin, eyes or clothing. Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling and before eating, drinking, chewing gum, using tobacco or using the toilet. Remove contaminated clothing and wash before reuse.”
Biological products such as parasitic nematodes Saponins of Quillaja saponaria have special application requirement, they cannot be applied in the middle of the day so they must be applied early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s cooler for them to have an effect and cannot be applied in conjunction with any other pesticides, these spores have a very short life span, they are effective against mostly caterpillars.
Organic crop programs are only successful when used together with IPM Integrated Pest Management, where the crops are inspected or monitored for pests and diseases on a daily basis, the use of pheromone traps, cultural practices are spot on, crops are rotated so a pesticide is only applied when absolutely necessary.
Organic insecticides and fungicides have very limited pest species on the label, they are not broad spectrum meaning they only treat or kill limited types of pests, you must have specific products for specific crops and in order to use them effectively requires a real knowledge of a the pest and plant, so an accurate identification and diagnosis is required before application or they won’t work.
Milky spores the Spores of Bacillus Popilliae a biological parasitic bacteria can be used as a product for the control of white grubs as part of an IPM program that includes correct cultural practices as correct mowing height and frequency, but milky spore is not a quick knock down product if you currently have grubs eating your lawn, in long-term studies milky spore may take 14 to 21 days to kill grubs after they have ingested it and only control up to 44% of grubs, meanwhile they are wrecking your lawn.
Sites are also limited, a copper fungicide can be applied at the first sign of disease to plants and shrubs but not to lawns, if you apply it to a lawn you are violating the label and federal law.
Organic pesticides such as copper may be toxic to fish and aquatic vertebrates so you can’t apply it near bodies of water or if wind speeds exceed 10 miles per hour.
Insecticides like pirethrins are OMRI listed for organic production because it is a botanical insecticide extracted from the chrysanthemum flower, but since it is an insecticide that has been used so extensively by pest control professionals it is thought of as a professional insecticide and not organic or natural, like most botanical extracts they has very little residual, it is used as a quick knock down product of fleas and ticks, pirethrins are toxic to bees, pollinators, beneficial insects and fish.
Smells and odors are part of the integrated use of natural and organic pesticides and fertilizers, such as hydrolized fish fertilizers or buffalo compost, most have scents of botanical oil extracts from clove and garlic which can be pungent, others are more palatable like mint, cinnamon and thyme but odors are part of it.
Price organic pesticides and application rates will influence cost, it’s one thing to pay eighty-nine cents more for the organic carrots or the natural cleaner at 3.29 vs 2.69 for the harsh chemicals cleaner and quite another to have to 2 to 6 times more in the price and the amount required, such as using 20 to 50 pounds of gluten corn meal per thousand square feet at a price of $25 per 1000 sq ft and you have 12,000 square feet, that’s over $300 for pre emergent weed control that won’t control any established weeds and that is without accounting for labor to apply it, when compared to $45 for 50 lb bag of weed and feed with atrazine that covers the same area.
All pesticides whether natural, organic, green or synthetic have some level of toxicity or irritation or environmental impact, you must always read, interpret, understand and follow all label directions to use any pesticide.
In organic pest control the only 100% safe pesticide is the one you don’t apply, by implementing IPM principles first which include inspecting, excluding, sealing, habitat modification, cultural practice such as trimming, mowing, pruning, water control, proper plant selection, proper plant location, and trapping making a pesticide your last option and only applying them when all other options have failed to control the pest.
Why is IPM safer and more effective than organic pest control, because IPM integrates organic, natural, inorganic pesticides, along with exclusion, trapping, monitoring, correct identification and a knowledge of insect biology and which chemistry, protocol or procedure to effectively control specific pests not just the spraying of broad spectrum insecticide because you don’t know what you are dealing with so spray something that kills everything contaminating everything hoping it will control something.
With IPM as in organic pest control, targeted synthetics pesticides are only applied when absolutely necessary.
Most pesticides are used in IPM are non toxic or low toxicity dusts and baits whether in granular, liquid or in gel forms in cracks, crevices, voices and in stations where they don’t come in contact with people or pets.
In IPM Natural insecticides are applied to lawns and gardens for the control of biting, sucking, chewing insect pests in accordance with pests life cycles to control pests in all stages of growth from egg, larvae, pupae and adult, deterring pests from laying eggs, repealing them and disrupting their growth cycles producing immature adults that can’t breed.
Some biological pesticides like Bti are effective at controlling mosquito larvae in water-logged areas, with dunk donuts and granular bits preventing them from becoming adults.
IGR,s have very low mammalian toxicity and help control insects by disrupting egg, larvae and adults growth cycle from becoming reproductive adults or deforming their body parts.
In IPM there is no substitute for routine inspections to find and identify potential pest problems, unlike in quarterly chemical application only programs IPM requires frequent inspections depending upon the type of property or the sensitivity and potential human contamination.
A home service may be adequate every 2 to 3 months depending on the tolerance to pests the home owners will find acceptable, in a food service facility that is in a strip mall the acceptable pest tolerance to an inspector is different from that of the owner or patron and may require a monthly service which the major part being a thorough inspection not a chemical spray, in a medical facility or five-star hotel a weekly or bi weekly inspection with specialized monitors will be required in order to maintain sanitation standards.
Clearly IPM is a safer and offers better control than just selecting an organic pest control pesticide product.