Monday, May 9, 2011


Ironically, while I write, there is a Stink Bug buzzing around my bathroom.  It's a horrible noise but I don't really know what to do with him. If I squish him, he'll stink up the place, if I open the window, more just like him will sneak in....

IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management
Here is the definition of IPM according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices..., it is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

A pest is really just anything that you don't want in a place where it is:  weeds...plants....birds....bugs....people...ha just kidding.  No seriously, I have becoming fascinated with IPM as I have begun a study of the weeds at the National Arboretum, as I contemplate the poison ivy and the mosquitoes that plague me in the summer and as I think about the pests in my own garden and how I will combat them without losing my crop or my cool. 

I'm amazed that our industry has pushed the concept of balance to the forefront.  In an age where excess is key, I'm surprised that we've officially made 'integrated management' of any kind a priority.  But, the effects of most herbicides and pesticides can be seen in a day or two, sometimes in minutes.  And so when you work outside, you can't ignore the effects that toxins, bad matches, wrong environments and sudden changes have on us and on our environment. Still, I can't think of any other area where we (mankind) have created jobs to really incorporate balance into our lives/workplace/world.

And so, it's not surprising that I think we could apply IPM to our own lives, not just our gardens.....Some plants are nice, but they aren't nice in the wrong spot, so they need to be dug up and replanted somewhere else.  Some weeds can be handled just by pulling them out.  Plants can be put near other plants to attract and repel the 'right' and the 'wrong' kinds of insects and avoid having to use any chemicals at all.  Some problems are solved with a lot of sunshine and a little bit of water.  Sometimes, insects that damage crops can be handled by finding the eggs ( their source) and disposing of them.  Some pests, i.e. poison ivy, are so dangerous that they need to be destroyed.  Some plants don't live well with others, they are invasive, and greedy.  Picking up on all the metaphors here?

What's interesting about IPM are the boundaries and balance that it promotes in our environment.  It forces us to share, to be creative, to be knowledgeable and rational.

I think it's the same for the 'pests' in our lives.  Our stresses, our 'enemies,' our fears, our vices, our loves, our obsessions.  Well, for getting through and thriving, we all could use a bit more integrated pest management...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for getting the stink bug out of our bathroom, cause I'm still not charmed by him. :)