IPM: The Science Behind Common Sense Pest Control

Updated: May 14

When it comes to household pests, spiders are an anomaly. While some customers request the home be treated with pesticide immediately, others request that spiders and their webs remain untouched. Customers who appreciate the spider’s presence are using a method of Pest Control called Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which contributes to a healthier environment and saves homeowners money in the process.

The IPM method does not just apply to spiders. Companies who use IPM apply the same standard of practice from ants and beetles to stinging insects. But What exactly is IPM, and what makes the spider a fitting example for applying it to Pest Control?

Simply put, IPM is a multi step scientific process that answers the question: “How can I solve the problem long-term without the added risk and excessive cost?” The answer is not just pesticides. Pesticides do not create pest issues but help minimize them. If the reason for which the problem occurred is never addressed, how could you expect the issue to go away naturally?

Shifting towards an eco-friendly business model, companies began setting realistic expectations with customers, educating themselves on the pest’s biology and lifestyle, and producing solutions that were sustainable. No longer is using pesticides long term and for every situation an acceptable practice, and it is hard to believe that it used to be standard in the industry.

Since spiders are a beneficial insect, utilizing IPM would determine whether the spider can help contribute to pest control efforts or poses an actual threat to the homeowner’s health and finances. More often than not, the presence of spiders will benefit the home more than harm it. To make this determination, we will apply the steps of IPM to spiders. We will need to set an action threshold, identify then monitor the situation, prevent spiders from entering the space, and then find a reliable control method to address only the spiders of concern.

Setting an action threshold: A single spider sighting does not call for immediate pesticide use, while multiple spiders and egg sacs in or around the house may involve pesticide. When to take action by chemical solution depends on a variety of factors for which the professional should present.

Understanding a pest’s behavior, habitat, and lifecycle is paramount in becoming a successful pest control company and are primary factors in determining when to act.

Monitoring and identification: Pests are often misidentified by the untrained eye, but you should expect your pest control company to know the difference between a Black Widow and a False Widow. A well-educated professional could tell you that Hobo Spiders and Sac Spiders are common throughout Washington State while the Brown Recluse is not.

Your pest control professional should also be able to educate the customer that spiders are solitary, terrified of human interaction, rarely administer poisonous bites to non-prey, and if an abundance of spiders is present, what environmental factors are playing a role in their presence. You can only defeat and prevent that in which you understand.

Prevention: Clutter makes for great hiding and a safe place to keep spider nests and egg sacs. The more cluttered, dark, and dustier the space is within your home, the more appealing it is to spiders. Once the clutter is removed you take away one of the attractants that would lead to further uninvited guests.

Prevention is always the first and most crucial step of IPM. It is also less expensive, healthier for the environment, and often solves universal pest issues. Addressing damaged caulking around windows for example prevents spiders as much as it will ants, beetles, and wasps from entering the home.

Control: If preventive measures are unavailable or no longer effective, control methods are introduced. Control does not always mean insecticides. During swarming seasons for example, leaving spiders and their webs in place around the exterior of the home can help defend against reproductive carpenter ants and termites.

This Biological method of control can help save homeowners thousands of dollars in potential damage at no additional cost. Once the swarming season is over, spiders will naturally seek alternative game or hunting grounds. Knocking down webs is a preventative measure that will clean up the unsightly while remaining humane for spiders. While we can still treat homes for spiders, rarely do they cause enough physical or economic damage to be considered a legitimate threat to homeowners.

So why not spray for all pests? Insecticides are not universal. While some insecticides work to repeal multiple species of insects, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Chemical treatments designed to kill arachnids do not have the same effect on wood destroying ants or beetles, and it is against Federal Law to mix a cocktail of chemicals in an attempt to achieve controlling all pests. Using IPM helps determine when, what, where, and how much pesticide to apply given a particular situation, with the end goal of using as little pesticide as possible and decrease use overtime.

Residential pest control companies are not the only ones who practice IPM. Many organic farmers use IPM as a safer and more reliable means in caring for and rotating crops. The Environmental Protection Agency also encourages and recommends the use of IPM for all school districts to limit pesticide use as it is more likely that children within the school would have a chemical sensitivity.

IPM helps to establish what is necessary and safe rather than making a callous call to blanket spray insecticides, which could potentially lead to allergic reactions, damage to property, or cause unnecessary deaths to beneficial life in the ecosystem. IPM is the safest, cost effective, and reliable pest control method used by pest control companies today, which is why Pacific Pest Management uses IPM to address all our customers' pest issues. Contact us today to help with your pest control needs.

Scott Hinesley

WSDA Licensed Pest Manager

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