How to Manage Pests

UC Pest Management Guidelines


Integrated Pest Management

(Reviewed 11/06, updated 11/06, corrected 3/10)

In this Guideline:

Integrated pest management uses a combination of compatible methods to prevent and manage pest outbreaks. In alfalfa hay production, common methods include biological control, modifications of cutting schedules, the use of strip or border cutting, resistant varieties, and pesticides when required. A list of alfalfa varieties (PDF) and the pests to which they are resistant, including insects, diseases, and nematodes is available from the National Alfalfa Alliance. Additionally, a yearly alfalfa variety report can be found at

Proper identification of insect pests and natural enemy species is essential. Many insect species, particularly in the immature stages, are similar in appearance and may be easily confused with each other. For example, lygus nymphs may be confused with big-eyed bug nymphs, which are predators. Pea aphid and blue alfalfa aphid are similar in appearance and can easily be mistaken for each other. Because economic treatment thresholds are different for specific pest species, improper identification can lead to improper management decisions. Likewise, failure to properly identify natural enemy species may lead to unnecessary pesticide applications if predator or parasite populations are sufficient to maintain pest numbers below economic treatment levels.

When pesticide intervention becomes necessary, it is important that the proper chemical, rate, and application method be used. The selected chemical should be easy on natural enemy species and honey bees while maximizing control of the pest. Selection of an insecticide product for an application depends on several factors including proper registration status, activity on the pest to be controlled, preharvest interval, cost, length of residual control of the pest, and selectivity to natural enemies.

Use the year-round IPM program for guidance in carrying out a comprehensive IPM program for alfalfa hay.

For more Information, see Irrigated Alfalfa Management.


[UC Peer Reviewed]

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Alfalfa
UC ANR Publication 3430

General Information

L. D. Godfrey, Entomology, UC Davis
E. T. Natwick, UC Cooperative Extension, Imperial County
P. B. Goodell, Entomology, Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier
R. F. Long, UC Cooperative Extension, Yolo County

Acknowledgment for contributions to Insects and Mites:
C. G. Summers, Entomology, Kearney Agricultural Center
M. Rethwisch, UC Cooperative Extension, Riverside County (Blythe)
D. R. Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension, Kern County

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Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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