Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

IPM is a comprehensive, environmentally sensitive approach to managing pests that includes a combination of strategies that pose the least hazard to people, property, and the environment. The simple philosophy is that control will be more effective, and resistance will be less likely to build up, when a range of measures is deployed against a pest. These measures can include, cultural, mechanical or physical, biological, and chemical methods for managing the pest.

Some of the key components to a successful IPM program include the following:

screen shot of National Wildlife Refuge System web site
Volunteers and Invasives: Learning and Lending a Hand is the Refuge System’s first online, self-study course helped train Refuge Friends and volunteers to fight invasive species. It includes a thorough but simplified explanation of Integrated Pest Management, among other elements.
  • Identify current and potential pest species, their biology, and conditions conducive to the pest(s) (air, water, food, shelter, temperature and light).
  • Understand the physical and biological f actors that affect the number and distribution of pests and their natural enemies.
  • Conserve natural enemies.
  • Prevent, Avoid, and Monitor potential pest species.
  • Establish “Action Thresholds” (such as a certain number of pests per acre) at which point an approved management strategy will be implemented.
  • Review available Tools and Best Management Practices for the management of the identified pest(s).
  • Tools can include:
    1) No action. This alternative may be chosen if the pest numbers are low enough that they don't interfere with management goals;
    2) Physical (manual & mechanical) management;
    3) cultural management;
    4) biological management; and,
    5) chemical management strategies.

  • Select the most effective, low risk pest management strategies in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies.
  • Build consensus with stakeholders-occupants, decision-makers and technical experts (ongoing throughout the process).
  • Document decisions and maintain records.
  • Obtain approval, define responsibilities and implement selected best management strategies.
  • Evaluate results of management strategies; determine if objectives have been achieved; modify strategy if necessary.

The pest issues affecting Service trust resources are broad and complex. The competition and predation of nonnative species poses risks to approximately 50% of threatened and endangered species. Some of the top pest issues affecting Service trust resources include the Norway rat, arctic fox, northern pike, European starling, European green crab, Chinese mitten crab, Canada and musk thistle, purple loosestrife, saltcedar (tamarisk), Chinese tallow tree, Russian knapweed, spotted knapweed, buffel grass, ox-eye daisy, orange hawkweed, Johnson grass, field bindweed, leafy spurge, Russian olive, Dalmatian and yellow toadflax, salvinia molesta, and soybean aphid.

Orange hawkweed infestation
Orange hawkweed infestation, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Camp Island, Alaska
Same location after three years treatment with herbicide
Same location after three years treatment with herbicide.

Pest: Any living organism (plant or animal) that occurs where it is not wanted or that causes damage to crops or humans or other animals.

Cultural management: Cultural practices are a manipulation of the habitat environment to increase pest mortality or reduce rates of pest increase and damage. There are many different cultural practices that can help to reduce pest impact such as selection of pest resistant varieties of crops, mulching, winter cover crops, changing planting dates to minimize insect impact, burning, flooding, crop rotations that include non-susceptible crops, moisture management, addition of beneficial insect habitat, or other habitat alterations.

Mechanical or Physical Management: Mechanical or physical control methods involve using barriers, traps, or physical removal to prevent or reduce pest problems. Tactics may include using row covers or trenches to prevent insects from reaching the crop, baited or pheromone traps to capture insects, or cultivation or mowing for weed control.

Biological Management: Biological control is the deliberate use of the pest's natural enemies - predators, parasites, and pathogens - to reduce the pest population below damage levels.

Chemical Control: When exploring chemical control options, you should select the lowest risk and most effective products. The key is to use pesticides in a way that complements rather than hinders other elements in the strategy and which also limits negative environmental effects. It is important to understand the life cycle of a pest so that the pesticide can be applied when the pest is at its most vulnerable – the aim is to achieve maximum effect at minimum levels of pesticide.

Additional Info.:

Environmental Quality - Part 569 Pest Management. Chapter 1. (pdf )Integrated Pest Management 569 FW 1. 8/3/2010.

Reducing Risks to Pollinators from Pest Management Activities (pdf). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. January 2013.

Reducing the Risks from Pests and Pest Management Activities (pdf). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. July 2004.

Integrated Pest Management Policy (pdf). Department of the Interior. Departmental Manual. (Effective Date: 5/31/07 Series: Environmental Quality Programs Part 517: Pesticides).

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Map with links to Regional and National IPM Contacts.

Instructions for Preparing Integrated Pest Management Plans (pdf) for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lands. 2004.


Other Department of the Interior Agency Links:

National Park Service, Integrated Pest Management -

Bureau of Reclamation, Ecological Research and Investigations:
Aquatic Site Pest Management -

Other Links:

Bio-Integral Resource Center (BIRC). Specializes in finding non-toxic and least-toxic, integrated pest management (IPM) solutions to urban and agricultural pest problems -

IPM Institute of North America. An independent non-profit organization whose mission is to accelerate adoption of IPM in agriculture and communities through consumer education and development of IPM standards for self-evaluation and IPM certification -

North Central IPM Center: National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management


Last updated: February 13, 2013