Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

IPM photo banner

What is IPM?

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is an environmentally sound approach to managing pests such as insects, weeds, plant pathogens, and wildlife on farms and forests, in our communities, and in our homes. IPM relies on proper pest identification, monitoring, and combinations of pest avoidance and management strategies to protect people, crops, and the environment while minimizing reliance on pesticides.

IPM Toolbox for Everyone

  • Prevention and Cultural Control – Learning about the behavior of pests and setting the environment up to protect against them:
    • – If you find the pest you are dealing with, the factsheets contain great prevention information
    • 2023 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map - the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which perennial plants are most likely to thrive at a location. Happy plants defend themselves better against pests!
  • Monitoring and Recordkeeping – If you are dealing with a pest, keeping records of when you saw it, what you tried, and if it worked is crucial!
  • Action Thresholds – Analyze your situation and determine if the presence of the pest is tolerable. This can be a judgement call in aesthetic situations, ornamental landscapes, gardens, and is often a scientific calculations in commercial agriculture. When human health is involved, tolerance for pests in some cases must be extremely low.
    • Understanding Tolerance of Pests – Excellent article to understand this.
    • MaineYardscaping - growing a healthy lawn is the best defense against weeds and insects and the secret to a nice looking lawn, and you might feed some insects (and learn to enjoy them!) along the way!
  • Control Options – once you have determined the pest species and considered the situation, if control is needed here are some resources. Don’t forget! IPM is a cycle, so if you do choose to control a pest, keep good records, take time to prevent the pest issue happening again, and consider developing a simple system to revisit if the solution worked. One simple way would be to use a calendar (digital or a wall calendar) to take notes of what you saw, when you saw it, and what you tried. If you are using a digital calendar, consider adding a yearly repeating task to monitor for the pest at the time of the year you saw it!
    • – linked again, as the factsheets on pages provide several control options. Ensure any chemical control follows regulations in the State of Maine
    • Think First, Spray Last – website for the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, which has lists of resources at the bottom of the page for the public, for registrants, and for applicators and distributors

Agriculture and Horticulture IPM

School IPM Program

  • All Maine schools, both public and private, are required to adopt IPM policies and practices and appoint an IPM coordinator.
  • IPM enables schools to manage pests through regular pest monitoring, effective communication, good facilities management practices, and combinations of smart effective tactics including pest traps, good property management practices, and selective use of chemicals when needed.
  • With IPM, schools can protect human health and the environment while saving money.

Maine School IPM Program website

Teacher Educational Resources

Why teach about pests and pesticides? Insects, weeds and other critters can affect people, our food and our environment in important ways. Teaching about IPM provides an engaging way to apply scientific concepts to everyday situations, including:

  • How can we avoid tick and mosquito bites?
  • Why are bees important?
  • How can we keep pests from eating our school garden plants?

Lessons are organized by topic and grade-level can be used individually or as part of a unit.

IPM Resources for Professionals

IPM Council

The Maine Legislature established the Integrated Pest Management Council to promote, expand and enhance integrated pest management adoption in all sectors of pesticide use and pest management within the State. Our mini-poster (PDF) describes what we do.

The Maine IPM Council is administered and coordinated jointly by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. The Council is made up of 11 members representing a broad base of IPM stakeholders.

IPM Council website