An Essential Guide to Maintaining Tree Health
If you believe the environment deserves proper care and consideration, you’ve probably wondered about alternative pest control methods to pesticides. In order for trees to keep our air cooler and cleaner—among many other benefits—we must find more natural, preventative pest control for trees. That’s where Integrated Pest Management (IPM) comes in. A more “organic” approach to preventing infestations, IPM only uses pesticides as a last resort. This method offers many benefits for our trees! Continue reading to learn key strategies for safe, holistic pest control.
What exactly is Integrated Pest Management?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines IPM as “an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on...current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment...in combination with available pest control methods.”
The IPM approach strives “to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.” In other words, it’s a method for managing risk of infestation, as opposed to treating it after the fact. More specifically, pest control experts determine all potential ways pests may find your trees inviting, including fungi and diseases, pruning practices, and soil type and irrigation practices. Keep in mind, pests include not only insects but also weeds, fungi, and even animals.
IPM Best Practices
Integrated Pest Management consists of two phases: assessment and action.
First, you must determine whether pest populations have the potential to reach the action threshold and/or economic threshold. In other words, the number of pests must be high enough that they can cause damage to the trees in order to begin managing the problem.
The Pesticide Environmental Stewardship provides detailed steps for how to set a proper action threshold for an accurate pest management strategy.
Made up of several natural pest control methods--cultural, biological, physical, and chemical--IPM can be classified as a holistic approach.
Cultural Practices. These controls disrupt the pests’ ideal environmental conditions, making it harder for them to inhabit the tree or surrounding area. To minimize the effects of infestation, follow these steps.
- Choose pest-resistant tree varieties.
- Thin and prune your trees properly.
- Water and fertilize effectively.
Biological Practices. This method involves using pests’ own biological makeup and imperatives against them.
- Protect natural predators or rivals in the environment, such as insect-eating animals and beneficial bugs. Birds, bats, and ladybugs are a few examples. You can provide habitats and food for these natural enemies by planting other flora.
- You can use pheromones (or insect scents) to confuse insects and disrupt their mating behaviors.
Physical Practices. Physical barriers also decrease pest levels. The following best practices prove beneficial.
- Set up insect and animal traps.
- Weed around the base of your tree in a wide radius.
- Mulch around the tree to fight the spread of weeds.
Chemical Practices. As the last resort, pesticides and herbicides can be used to treat an infestation that has already grown unmanageable. But take care; you should use pesticides that target specific pests you want to eradicate, so you don’t harm beneficial plants, insects, and animals.
Most people associate pest control with insects and pesticides; it’s easy to forget that plants and animals can also pose a threat to your trees’ health. Integrated Pest Management provides more complete, holistic tree care. Relying solely on pesticides may harm trees and wildlife more so than if you work to prevent infestation from the start.
At Woodie’s Tree Service, we subscribe to the IPM approach to managing your trees’ health. If you are interested in environmentally friendly pest control service, contact us today! Your trees are important to us.