When in Florida, Use Integrated Pest Management

As part of the Office of Pesticide Programs’ annual tour of South Central Florida agriculture, several coworkers and I recently visited several farms and beekeeping facilities. We also observed pest control efforts. While every stop taught me something new about agriculture, food production, and pest management, I found myself most intrigued by the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques used by farmers and local governments.

Integrated Pest Management can be used in any situation where pest control is needed – from growing crops to controlling bedbugs. Simply put, IPM is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices.

How are Floridians using IPM?  Here are some examples from our trip:

  • Barn owls control rodents: The University of Florida Everglades Research and Education Center
    A University of Florida Everglades Research and Education Center owl box ready to be stationed at a farm.

    A University of Florida Everglades Research and Education Center owl box ready to be stationed at a farm.

    encourages the use of barn owls to control rodent populations in farm fields.  By constructing owl boxes near farms, owls move in to feed on the rodents that frequent farms.  This effort has allowed farmers to reduce the use of rodenticides.

  • Release of grass carp to control invasive plants.  Photo courtesy of the Lee County Hyacinth Control District

    Release of grass carp to control invasive plants. Photo courtesy of the Lee County Hyacinth Control District

    Fish to control weeds: The Lee County Hyacinth Control District’s biological program utilizes grass carp in some of the county’s storm water canals and ponds in a controlled fashion to deal with invasive aquatic vegetation. The carp are used in conjunction with chemical and mechanical techniques to keep excessive plant growth from taking over public waterways, disrupting the ecosystem and making boat navigation difficult.

  • The pesky mosquito: The Lee County Mosquito Control District uses a variety of techniques to control mosquito populations and prevent the spread of disease. Community outreach and education programs are an important part of LCMCD’s work.  By teaching the community simple ways to make their homes and yards less mosquito-friendly, the county as a whole is taking part in IPM.  LCMCD’s tips include: irrigate lawns to prevent standing water, stock ornamental ponds with fish so they can eat mosquito eggs, and change outdoor pet water bowls regularly to prevent mosquitos from laying eggs.

Prior to visiting these sites, I was most familiar with IPM when it came to schools, thanks to our IPM in Schools webinar series.  But, as you can see, IPM opportunities are everywhere, from farms to waterways.  It’s likely that your community, and mine, are benefiting from common sense IPM approaches to pest management, whether we realize it or not!

About the author: Colleen Keltz is new to the world of pesticides at EPA, but not new to EPA.  After spending some time working on the 3R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), she’s now focused on increasing her pesticide knowledge as part of the Office of Pesticide Programs’ communications team.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Farmers Shift Towards Virtually Non-Toxic Alternatives for Pest Control

Jim Jones Jim Jones

When you’ve had mosquitos in your yard, you might have lit a citronella candle, or you might have used some garlic oil to reduce the number of aphids in your garden. At some point we’ve all done something to reduce the number of pests in our environment. When their populations get out of control they can spread and cause disease, and destroy farmers’ crops.

There’s a whole range of what we call biological pesticides, or “biopesticides,” that are made of naturally occurring substances derived from animals, plants, bacteria, fungi and minerals – like citronella, garlic oil and acetic acid. The great news about biopesticides is that they are virtually non-toxic to people and the environment. They usually target specific pests, reducing risks to beneficial insects, birds and mammals. Even better, they’re becoming more common – and that means that safer alternatives to control pests are becoming more widely available.

Biopesticides have long been used in organic farming, but their use in conventional farming is growing now as well. We created a new division focused on raising the profile of biopesticides and helping them to get licensed. Our Biopesticides Division has registered more than 430 biological active ingredients and, in partnership with the USDA, awarded over 70 grants across the country to research biopesticides for specialty and minor crops. Our more efficient registration process for biopesticides helps keep up with demand. We’re helping agriculture to shift towards biopesticides, and minimizing risks to people and the environment.

The use of biopesticides in U.S. agriculture has more than quadrupled lately, going from 900,000 pounds of active ingredient applied in 2000 to 4.1 million pounds in 2012, the most recent year for which we have data. Nearly 18 million acres are being treated with biopesticides, producing crops that are better for people’s health and the planet. Many farmers use them as part of their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs so they can rely less on higher-risk pesticides and effectively produce higher crop yields and quality with lower impact on the environment.

I’m thrilled to see a significant and steady increase in the registration of new biopesticide products as well as demand from farmers, growers, retailers and consumers. We have long been committed to encouraging the development and use of low-risk biopesticides as alternatives to conventional chemical pesticides, and our commitment and efforts will continue over time.

For more about our efforts with pesticides, visit: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Springtime Means Tick Time

Jim Jones Jim Jones

I remember my distress when both of my children came home from camp one year with ticks. I know from friends and colleagues who have contracted diseases carried by ticks, such as Lyme disease, that Lyme disease can be a life-changing, harrowing experience — from fevers to joint-pain and numbness to worsening symptoms. Luckily, my own children were spared.

Ticks are a growing problem across much of the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preliminary results from three different evaluation methods suggest that the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States is around 300,000. With warmer weather upon us, we’re all gearing up for more time in the great outdoors.
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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.