IPM Model – Part 2

In the first article, I brought up the fact that our current version of IPM, does not contain a prevention provision, as it is commonly defined. I also stated that we need to develop a new model for IPM, and suggested the use of the mosquito as a basis for working out the details of this model. The simpler the better, I say. Logical extensions of our concepts can be made for other types of pest problems and some will be noted as we go along.

We need a frame work for what we will consider, so let’s start with an ancient concept, let’s start with the 4 elements: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. I am not looking at this in some mystical way. We will look at them as:

1. Soil.

2. Water.

3. Temperature/Light

4. Air.

How and where each of these elements are incorporated will determine your place on the IPM map.

Stage 1:

If you build a new home in a wet area (Water), with no provision for drainage (Soil), with very little wind (Air), and very little sunshine (Temperature/Light), then you are building in an area ripe for a mosquito invasion. You have options. You can choose a new place to build. You can make adjustments to your current location, by changing a few things.

1. Since the water is a constant, the soil would be the next place to start. You can provide for surface drainage by sloping the area, or you can improve sub surface drainage, or both.

2. If the lack of sunlight is a result of buildings around you, or you live in Seattle, there will not be much you can do about the sunlight, but if your limited solar penetration is a result of a grove of trees that you own, you might be able to allow some light in by selective thinning of the canopy (pruning) or thinning the grove by removing some, particularly on the Southern side.

3. Air circulation will be a problem for the same reason as light penetration, and has pretty much the same options.

If you have an existing home in an area like the one described, you have the same options.

Now, let’s put this on a smaller more manageable scale. You want to build a new outbuilding to house your garden tools and mowing equipment. You should ask yourself 2 questions for each of the four elements. How will this be affected by each element? How will this effect each element?


1. Will the irrigation water cause problems with my structure?

2. Will this structure cause a problem with drainage and irrigation? If you are building a wooden building, or an open building, will the irrigation cause problems with the wood, or spray directly on the equipment if it is an open shed?

Will this block irrigation, blocking out water to part of my lawn? Will it cause water to build up somewhere else in the yard causing a potential mosquito problem?


1. Will the direct sunlight make the building uninhabitable during the day while you are sharpening your mower blades?

2. Will the reflective heat from the building cause nearby shrubs to roast, or weaken them, making them insect and disease susceptible? Will the shade the building provides, “shade out” some of your prized plants or lawn?


1. Will this new structure block the natural air flow through the area, causing potential evaporation problems,and leading to fungus and insect problems?

2. Does the airflow cause a potential problem with the structure? Will the building be able to get adequate breeze?

Then we ask, how we can re-engineer the project to avoid potential problems.

Using the same two question process for all of the elements, should lead to a nearly problem free project. This will not guarantee a pest free existence, but it will lessen the probability of a serious infestation. We are not trying to have an insect free world, that would be an ecological disaster, only trying to keep them at a distance. We will take this a few steps further in the next installment.

James Burns is a licensed pest control professional, has been a Certified Professional Turfgrass Manager for more than 16 years, has a lifetime of experience in horticulture and agriculture, and is the owner of Rational Environmental Solutions, an IPM based pest control company in East Texas.

He also has many helpful gardening tips at http://www.texpest.com.