Effective Pest Monitoring
By Dr. Stuart Mitchell
“Post hoc ergo propter hoc” (temporal succession implies causal relation). A long-time tenant of medicine, it simply states, the second event is understood as a consequence of the first. This can be further illustrated as; A occurred, then B occurred, therefore; A caused B or even avoiding A will prevent B. To put it simply, monitoring occurs, and then detailed graphing occurs, therefore; thorough monitoring causes thorough graphing for the pest management professional (PMP). An essential part of an integrated pest management (IPM) program.
The term “Integrated Pest Management” was introduced by R.F. Smith and R. Van Den Bosch. L.R. Clark, P.W. Geier, R.D. Hughes, and R.F. Morris introduced the relevance of ecology to IPM through the concept of “Life Systems.” In 1969, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) formalized the term and recognized the science of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
To define integrated pest management mechanistically serves the (PMP) well when communicating with clients and customers. Having a step-by-step understanding of the IPM cycle allows utilization of its concepts at any time and in any situation as a professional service provider. Understanding and relating IPM concepts is essential in the ever-increasing litigious environment PMPs now face.
The IPM cycle can be defined as the following:
- Inspection & investigation
- Identification of pests
- Levels of tolerance or action thresholds
- Two or more control measures
*Cultural or behavioral
*Professional product applications
- Evaluation of effectiveness and documentation
Monitoring and graphing (a portion of required written documentation) define both the effectiveness and needed changes within the IPM cycle. Monitoring redirects attention and indicates specific trends in pest pressures upon cyclical inspection and investigation. Monitoring allows the identification of pests while providing comparative effectiveness vs. action thresholds. Spatial monitors (census devices deployed three-dimensionally within the environment) dictate adjustments to, or changes in, control measures. Spatial monitoring allows timely evaluation of effectiveness prior to written documentation.
Appropriate monitoring starts with an organoleptic investigation, or an inspection combining your training, experience, and physical senses. Monitoring determines pest pressures spatially.
Graphing of spatial monitoring devices provides both a pictorial and written snapshot of the overall IPM cycle. In addition, it provides a critical record or archive of the IPM program to serve as evidence of due diligence.
Graphing monitors illustrates the quality and thoroughness of an inspection as well as the intuitive competence of the PMP as a function of investigating the origins of pest pressures and identifying the species present. Graphing monitors allows for trends analyses (the concept of collecting information and attempting to spot a pattern, or trend, within the information). Trends analyses can indicate program efficacy as a function of threshold level stability or violation as well as needed changes in the types of controls in place. A professional graphing of monitoring device deployments serves as both a key operational document and tangible evidence system of an IPM based program.
The systematic procedures and skills used by pest management professionals to apply insecticides and other non-insecticidal materials and devices are dependent upon a thorough understanding of integrated pest management concepts. The pest management professional is accustomed to monitoring and graphing for pests that include ants, cockroaches, flies, stored product pests, spiders, and rodents.