April showers bring May flowers, but along with the blossoms you can also expect the pests to come–in the form of harmful insects, rodents, weeds, fungus and other organisms that transmit disease or are otherwise harmful to people, plant and animal life, the landscape, structures and even our water and air quality.
While pesticide application might be the first pest control measure that comes to mind, pesticides can sometimes cause more harm than the pests themselves do, particularly when used improperly. This is why it’s smart to leave the job to the qualified pest management professionals of your locally owned and operated U.S. Lawns.
What are pesticides?
Pesticides can be organic or synthetic, and are products formulated to address specific pests within four basic categories:
Insecticides – which are used to control undesirable insects such as mosquitos, wasps, ants, ticks, termites, cutworms, aphids, leaf miners (can be any of a variety of different insects that live in and eat leaves during the larval stage), and other damaging bugs.
Rodenticides – such as traps and poison bait stations which are used to control rodents like rats and mice.
Fungicides – which are used to control blights, rusts and mildews that lead to diseased turf and other plantings.
Herbicides – which target unwanted vegetation while leaving grass and other plantings unharmed, and come in several forms:
- Pre-emergent herbicides, which are used as a preventative and must be applied in the proper conditions to be effective.
- Post-emergent herbicides, which are used to treat weeds that have already germinated.
- Aquatic herbicides, which are used to control algae and aquatic weeds in ponds, lakes and water features and are formulated to be non-hazardous to ground water, fish and wildlife.
When utilized responsibly, pesticides can help in pest management, but the key is to make sure you’re using the right products the correct way, so you’re not contaminating the ground water or poisoning beneficial plants, insects and wildlife–and pesticides should always be your last action instead of your first.
This is where employing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can make an impactful difference.
Integrated Pest Management: The Right Approach
IPM, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is “an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices.”
Integrated Pest Management is a scientific approach which incorporates information on all available pest control methods with key points about pests such as their life cycles and the different ways they interact with the environment. With these insights, pests can be managed more effectively through a combination of tactics that will be the least damaging to property, people, the environment, and landscaping budgets too.
IPM Manages The Ecosystem By Creating Conditions Unfavorable For Pests
Integrated Pest Management is a four-part process that manages the entire ecosystem of your landscape by creating conditions that are unfavorable for pests to thrive:
Establish Action Point: The first step is to determine at what point it will be necessary to take action. Seeing one pest doesn’t necessarily mean you need to initiate pest control immediately, but knowing when to take action in time to prevent an issue is crucial. Establishing your action point guides your pest control decisions moving forward.
Pest Identification & Observation: Since many organisms don’t require control, it’s important to distinguish between beneficial and harmless organisms and harmful pests, so appropriate decisions can be made in cooperation with established action points. This is critical to ensuring the right pesticide is used and only if necessary.
Pest Prevention: The first line of defense against unwanted pests is prevention. There are a variety of things you can do to make your landscape unattractive to pests without the need for pesticides. A few steps you can take include:
- Choose plants that are naturally resistant to disease as well as those that will repel pests, such as chrysanthemums, marigolds, petunias and lemongrass.
- Ensure trees and shrubs are properly pruned and trimmed and that there is plenty of space between branches and structures, preventing ease of access to rooftops.
- Maintain a buffer space between shrubberies, plant beds, vegetation and natural mulch and the foundations of buildings to keep termites, carpenter ants and other pests away. Decorative stones like river rock are an attractive and effective way to create that buffer.
- Avoid thick vegetation and low undergrowth which is very attractive to rodents and insects alike.
- Eliminate areas of standing water where mosquitoes thrive, keep landscape drains open and operational and make sure water features are well-functioning and cleaned regularly.
- Remove leaves and debris that will otherwise provide a safe haven for pests.
- Apply and maintain wood mulch properly to ensure it is nurturing soil and root systems rather than those nasty pests.
- You can also deter pests from being drawn to your grounds by keeping grass well-trimmed and free of weeds.
Pest Control: When preventative measures are no longer effective and your established action point indicates pest control is necessary, it’s time to identify which pest control method will be the most effective while presenting the least amount of risk. This may include mechanical controls such as weeding or setting up traps; or the application of highly targeted pesticides like pheromones that disrupt the mating cycle.
If, upon continued observation and identification it is determined that the less risky controls aren’t working, it may be necessary to spray pesticides, although this pest control measure (especially broadcast spraying of non-targeted pesticides) should always the last resort.
Trust Your Pest Control Needs To The Professionals
Controlling pests in the landscape can be a long, involved process, and if you do need to utilize pesticides, there is so much you need to know to do it safely and responsibly. In fact, pest control professionals are legally required to maintain current certifications in the application of pesticides, because of the potential risks involved.
So, before you get in over your head, contact your local U.S. Lawns pest control experts. Then you can focus on the rest of your job confident in the knowledge that we’re staying on top of the pest management and doing the job with the utmost of care for your landscape and your community. Your Turf. Our Lawn.