Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a philosophy of pest control founded on the principles of ecology. IPM can be conceived of as a structure whose foundation is established on a sound knowledge of pest and natural enemy biology and ecology. Based on this knowledge, monitoring, predictive models and treatment thresholds are used to determine the appropriate use of different control tactics. Several control tactics (biological, chemical, behavioral, cultural and genetics) are employed to avoid crop loss, produce a quality fruit, and minimize harmful effects on the environment. A definition of IPM adopted by Washington fruit growers reads: "Integrated pest management is a site-specific, information-based, multi-tactic decision making process for the management of pests that is profitable for the grower and promotes health and environmental quality."

IPM Diagram

IPM requires a more tolerant approach to pest control than programs that rely primarily on insecticides. Eliminating all insects and mites from the orchard is not the objective of IPM. Natural enemies (predators and parasites) are conserved as much as possible. For example, pests that attack the foliage can usually be tolerated at densities higher than those that attack the fruit, allowing natural enemies a chance to provide control. Washington is well known for integrated control of spider mites. Selective insecticides are used for control of key fruit damaging pests and thus conserving a predatory mite, which provides control of spider mites. Conserving the predatory mite keeps apple growers from needing to apply additional pesticides for spider mite control.

Bug IPM does not preclude the use of insecticides but attempts to use them judiciously and as a last line of defense against pests. IPM recognizes that insecticides are one of many tools available for managing pests and the more tools that are included in a management program, the more stable it will be. For example, the key pest of apple is the codling moth. The larva (caterpillar) of this moth bores into the apple making it unsuitable for sale. Washington growers use pheromones, a behavioral control, as a foundation for managing this pest and supplement its effect as needed with selective insecticides, which in turn conserve biological controls in orchards. Apple growers have been able to reduce use of insecticides by as much as 50% using pheromones to manage codling moth.


For more information on IPM in the Washington tree fruit industry go to the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center web page at