Managing pests is a process of finding ways to keep them from becoming a problem, rather than killing them directly. You use many approaches, including biological control, cultural controls, mechanical and physical controls, and chemical control.
Biological control is using natural enemies–predators, parasites, pathogens, and competitors–to control pests and their damage. This includes invertebrates, plant pathogens, nematodes, and weeds.
Cultural controls are practices that reduce pest establishment, reproduction, dispersal, and survival, such as changing irrigation and crop rotation, allowing a certain number of hours for a field to cool down before planting, or using resistant varieties.
The most effective long-term approach to pest management is a combination of tools and strategies that work together. This is called Integrated Pest Management (IPM). It is a strategy that combines different methods of pest control to minimize economic, health, and environmental risks.
It also uses a science-based decision-making process that focuses on ecosystem health and sustainability. This involves identifying pests and their habitats, monitoring their populations and determining what you can do to change conditions that make it easier for the pest to survive.
This information helps you choose the best pest-management strategies. You can monitor pests on a regular basis and consider factors like what the pest does to plants and other organisms, its biology and environmental conditions, and how it may affect your crops, forests, buildings, or other sites.
A pest is an organism that damages plants, landscapes, or wildlands, interferes with human or animal health, or harms the environment in any way. It can be a weed, rodent, insect, snail, worm, or other organism that is invasive or not native to the area.
Pests can be a nuisance or an important part of the ecosystem that is beneficial to people, animals, and plants. It is essential to identify and manage pests, because they are a source of economic, environmental, and public health problems.
The National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management provides guidelines to help farmers, ranchers, and other landowners identify and manage pests. It is coordinated by the Federal Integrated Pest Management Coordinating Committee, chaired by the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy.