The IPM Process

Overview of the IPM Process

IPM is a science-based decision-making process. It can be thought of as a series of 5 steps. Each step provides information on which to base a decision, or feedback to inform future pest control efforts.

Inspection, monitoring, problem identification

Problem Solving

Record keeping and evaluation

1. Inspection, scouting, and monitoring
2. Problem identification
3. Problem solving
4. Record keeping
5. Evaluation

These steps are universal to the IPM process, regardless of the situation. Fruit growers, turf managers, structural pest control professionals—all design IPM programs around different pest species and use different tools for controlling those pests. Yet all build their IPM programs around thebasic framework.

The Action Threshold

Integrated Pest Management is not geared toward eradication of the pest. The goal is to reduce the pest below the level where harm will occur. Depending on the system, harm may be related to economics, aesthetics, or human health.

The Pest Manager
The pest manager is the person responsible for making pest management decisions in an IPM program. Depending on the situation, the pest manager may be a:

• Farmer
• Private consultant
• Landscape manager
• School employee
• Professional pest control contractor


The pest manager inspects and monitors for pests, identifies pest problems, determines a solution to the problemgs, implements the solution, keeps records on pest levels, actions taken and results, and evaluates the IPM program on an ongoing basis.

The threshold concept in IPM was developed in agricultural pest management, but it also applies to turf, landscape, and structural IPM. Each systemhas a different management goal that will have an impact on the level of pests that can be tolerated. In agriculture, the management goal is typically to maximize profit by producing the best yield while minimizing production costs (including pesticide costs). In turf and landscapes, the management goal is generally to maintain these areas for a pleasing appearance. In buildings, the goal is prevent pests from threatening human health or structural integrity. In all of these systems, the pest manager must determine the level of pest activity that can be tolerated without having a negative impact on the system’s management goal.


Management Goal
Threshold Standard


Maximize profit
Turf and Landscape
Maintain pleasing appearance
Maintain human health and limit structural damage



The action threshold is the number of pests that can cause an unacceptable amount of damage unless an action is taken to control them. For some pests, in some systems, the threshold may be zero.




A single mouse in a hospital kitchen has the potential to contaminate food, spread disease, or start an electrical fire. On the other hand, a few ants in a school classroom or a few aphids on a healthy landscape plant may have no impact on human health or on landscape aesthetics.

Action thresholds are also influenced by the tolerance level people have for pest presence or pest damage. The pest manager must understand what level of pest damage or pest presence is acceptable to clients in an IPM program.