The Basics of Integrated Pest Management
We recently chatted with our National Sales Manager at 1st Defence Industries, Rob Hepler, to talk through some of the basics of Integrative Pest Management, or IPM.
Can you just tell us what IPM is for those who may not be familiar with the term?
IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management, and I've seen it referred to as intelligent pest management. To me, IPM is an intelligent way of looking at pest management. It's trying to take all the tools in my toolbox to address a situation so that when it all is said and done, we have happy customers.
It got started because of a want to cut back on pesticide use as the major products in dealing with past infestations. For some people, certain chemicals don't sit well with them. The other side is that regulations have changed. Products that were readily available, or that could be used five or ten years ago aren't even available to be used anymore.
Can you talk about how current and potential legislation changes are creating a greater need for IPM?
Well, to use a personal story, I think of back when I was a kid. Both of my grandparents on my dad's side were chain smokers. They came out of that pre World War II generation and there was no concept of how detrimental that could be to your health. Today we understand the dangers of smoking, and that it can be carcinogenic.
I think in a lot of ways, pest management companies saw a problem with mosquitoes, cockroaches, and bed bugs. A lot of times what humans do if we don't like something, we just kill it. We find the quickest, fastest way to do that. And that usually meant just spraying a bunch of chemicals on plants, around houses, and that sort of thing. Then we discovered that some people just are sensitive to it, or have allergic reactions to it.
Politicians have constituents that say, "If we put all these rodenticides out here, then the coyotes or the mountain lions that are eating the rats, they're going to get affected and made sick by secondhand exposure." Reliable studies out there that can prove that, but that doesn't always make a difference. Because you've also got to factor in the emotional response of people to things like this.
So regardless of the data, the industry is trending in a more green direction?
Yes. Particularly, you've got congressmen and congresswomen in Washington DC trying to eliminate airplanes and just traveling by trains and automobiles. Whether they're well-meaning or not, I think that the economical factors also have to play into these decisions. Unfortunately, legislators don't always think of that first and foremost. That being said, we still have to deal with the fallout.
How can pest management professionals begin implementing IPM programs?
IPM takes more time and it takes more training, both on the part of technicians and obviously pest management company owners. The first step is really just being curious. Wanting to understand, "Okay. How did this business work? What are the trends?" The next step is getting yourself educated and trying to understand. Another step is to get involved with the National Pest Management Association. Once you have the information, then you can begin to start making intelligent decisions about how you are going to approach pest management.