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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Applying IPM in your home and landscape

caulk around openings

Caulking around openings to your house will exclude pests and prevent them from entering.

plant pest resistant species

Plant pest-resistant species and always choose a location that meets the conditions a plant needs to thrive (e.g., full sun or shade, soil type, etc.)

forceful spray knocks off pests

Use a forceful spray of water from a garden hose to knock pests such as aphids and whiteflies off sturdy plants.

lady beetle

Natural enemies help keep pest populations in check. Common natural enemies in the garden include lady beetles (above), spiders, parasitic wasps, and minute pirate bugs.

yellow jacket trap

Traps, such as those for mice (above), are mechanical controls to help reduce pest numbers.

Integrated pest management (IPM) uses environmentally sound ways to keep pests from invading your home, damaging your plants, or annoying you. Successful IPM combines several methods to prevent and manage pest problems without harming you, your family, or the environment. In IPM, using pesticides may be an option, but when nonchemical methods are used first, pesticides are often not needed.

See the official University of California IPM definition.

Follow these steps to manage pests around your home and garden:

  1. Identify your pest correctly.

    Identify your pest to be sure the management method you choose will be effective. If you aren't sure what your pest is, use the tools on this Web site or contact your local UC Cooperative Extension Office for help. Find out if the pest is a problem that needs to be controlled and learn about its life cycle and biology.

  2. Determine if there are preventive or nonchemical methods you can use to reduce the problem.

    For best results, combine several methods from the following categories:

    • Prevention

      Prevent pests from invading or building up their populations in the first place. This might include removing the pests' sources of food, water, and shelter, or blocking their access into buildings or plants.

    • Cultural controls

      Cultural practices are things you can do to discourage pest invasion such as good sanitation, removing debris and infested plant material, proper watering and fertilizing, growing competitive plants, or using pest resistant plants.

    • Physical or mechanical controls

      Control pests with physical methods or mechanical devices such as knocking pests off of plants with a spray of water, using barriers and traps, cultivating, soil solarization, or heat treatments.

    • Biological control

      Biological control is the use of beneficial organisms (called natural enemies) to manage pests. Encourage natural enemies by planting flowering and nectar-producing plants and avoiding the use of broad-spectrum pesticides.

  3. If effective nonchemical methods are not available, consider using pesticides.

    • Pesticides

      Pesticides can be part of IPM, but use them only as a last resort and only after you have tried other methods. Be sure that your pest problem is serious enough to warrant a pesticide treatment. Always use the least toxic, yet effective, materials available and use them in ways that reduce human and pet exposure and protect the environment.

    • Combine pesticide treatments with other preventive methods

      Once pests are controlled, use preventive non-chemical methods to keep them from coming back.