Make your Jersey-Friendly Yard a healthier place for your family, pets, and wildlife by managing pests in an environmentally responsible way. Because pesticides are designed to kill or deter living organisms, they carry some risk of harm to humans, animals, and the environment.  You can minimize this risk in your yard by understanding and managing pest problems using safer control options.

Some homeowners and landscapers have adopted pest control programs with scheduled pesticide applications.  In these programs, pesticides are automatically applied at specific times of the year, whether pests are present or not.  This type of approach results in the misuse and overuse of pesticides.  When used improperly, pesticides can kill the beneficial insects that normally feed on pests, making it even more difficult to control them. To make matters worse, pests often develop resistance to the overused pesticides.

A Better Approach – Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the environmentally friendly alternative to conventional insect and disease control. The goal of IPM is the early detection and prevention of pests. IPM uses a combination of control practices linked together to manage pest problems, and chemical pesticides are only used when absolutely necessary. Proper management does not necessarily mean total elimination. To support nature’s own way of controlling a pest, low numbers are often allowed to remain in order to feed and maintain a naturally occurring beneficial insect like the lady beetle.

Five Basic Principles of IPM

  • Prevent pest problems before they start;
  • Identify the pest causing a problem;
  • Monitor pest numbers and the amount of damage;
  • Follow guidelines to make decisions about when action is needed; and
  • Use a combination of cultural, physical, biological controls and, only when necessary, targeted chemical controls.

IPM Begins When You Plan Your Landscape

Choosing the right plants and locating them in the right place helps keep them healthy and able to withstand pest attacks. Since native plants have natural defenses to plant diseases, harmful insects, and other pests, they are a good choice for a Jersey-Friendly Yard. Smart plant choices should be followed up with smart landscaping practices to maintain plant health and minimize pest problems.

Beneficial Insects for Natural Pest Control

A safer, more effective way to prevent or reduce pest damage is by promoting natural populations of insects that feed on harmful pests. Planting a variety of native plants is the key to attracting beneficial insects to your yard. Learn more about some of the predators and parasitoids that help keep insect garden pests under control.

Need Help Diagnosing A Plant Problem?

First contact your local office of Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension (RCE).  RCE staff and/or Master Gardener volunteers can usually identify the problem for free. The best plant sample is normally a branch or stem with several leaves, ideally showing both healthy and affected parts. Samples that require certain analyses and recommendations can be sent to the Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Laboratory, which provides a fee-based plant and pest identification service.

Additional Resources

University of California IPM online
Rutgers University: What is IPM?
Rutgers University: IPM in the Home Landscape
Sample IPM Landscape Maintenance Agreement
Xerces Society: Habitat Planning for Beneficial Insects