IPM, integrated pest management, is the practice of long-term prevention and suppression of pests. Several tools are commonly used, including scouting, resistant varieties of plants, and cultural practices. Pesticides are only used when pest pressures have reached an unacceptable level for the situation, and even then products are selected that are environmentally responsible.
It is well known that when a plant is grown in optimal conditions is less likely to have pest issues. That is why the start of IPM is prevention. Making sure the plant has everything its needs; proper nutrition, right amount of light, optimal soil type, and the right amount of irrigation will prevent many problems from happening. But sometimes you can do all the right things and still end up with pest problems.
My rule of thumb here is “More is not better”. It is so tempting when watering, or even fertilizing a plant, to “add some extra”. If your thinking is this will help the plant to better health, think again! Too much fertilizer might push the plants to grow too fast in an Interiorscape (having to replace sooner), or even create phytotoxicity issues. Growing too fast may also cause a decrease in the concentration of plants’ allelochemicals. Also keep in mind that plants in an interior area do not get their soils flushed like plants outdoors or in nursery settings. This lack of flushing will allow a build up of nutrients and salts in the soils, so they must be monitored closely. Soil and leaf tissue analysis will let you know if there is a nutritional problem and whether it needs to be treated. But what does this have to do with bugs? These factors can stress a plant, thereby making it more susceptible to insect damage. Proper nutrition is essential for prevention of pest problems.
Treatment of problem- So you have tried to do it all right: adequate light, proper watering, and good nutritional practices. Despite your best efforts, somehow “Poof” like some kind of magic “they” appear in the middle of the night. You stand there scratching your head asking yourself “ How did they get here, and at such high populations?” Well it is not magic. It is possible that the pests came in on the new plant material or even in the soil. A neighboring plant that can sustain this pest without signs of damage maybe the culprit. Insects and mites can move on wind currents, peoples clothing, animals and tools, so these could be other possible sources. This is why scouting your plants weekly and keeping records of pests found is so important. By keeping records they can be of long-term benefit as many pests tend to appear at about the same time each year. They will also help you assess if your treatments are working.