Integrated pest management more effective than conventional pest control, independent of sanitation practices
ATLANTA and BLACKSBURG, Va., July 15, 2004—A recent study by Atlanta-based pest management company Orkin, Inc. and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) found that Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is far more effective in controlling cockroach populations than conventional spray-based methods over a one-year period, regardless of sanitation practices.
IPM is the method by which many highly pest-sensitive environments such as food processors, hospitals, hotels, restaurants and schools prevent pests. It combines multiple pest management practices, starting with nonchemical methods, to bring about pest prevention and suppression in an environmentally sound manner. Unlike prior studies, this study compared IPM and conventional pest control methods without altering sanitation practices in the test site.
Carried out jointly in 2003 and published in the April 2004 issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology, the study was conducted at a low-income housing development in Eastern Virginia.
“Any pest expert can tell you that it is difficult to control pests, particularly cockroaches, in this type of facility,” said Dr. Dini Miller, a professor in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech and co-author of the study. “We chose this setting because we knew any differences in the effectiveness of the two methods would be obvious within a couple of months.”
The team selected 100 units with the highest cockroach populations. Fifty of these units were treated with conventional pest control methods for one year. The other 50 were treated with IPM-based procedures for the same period. During this time, neither group of residents was asked to alter their sanitation practices in any way.
The conventional units received liquid and dust pesticide treatments applied in the primary rooms of concern. The liquid application was repeated monthly and the dust replaced as needed.
In the IPM units, technicians used vacuums equipped with HEPA filters in areas that obviously harbored cockroaches to remove the insects and the organic debris that served as their food source. The units were then treated using nonvolatile, least-toxic methods such as cockroach baits and insect growth regulators (IGRs). The bait material was placed in areas where roaches populated, and the IGRs were applied underneath kitchen cabinets. The technicians replaced the IGRs every three months.
“By the end of the study, the technicians using IPM-based procedures had almost completely eradicated the roach population in their units,” said Frank Meek, technical director for Orkin and co-author of the study. “In fact, by the end of the sixth month, 40 of the 50 units had trap counts so low that they were placed on an every-other-month service frequency.”
As for the conventionally treated units, the number of cockroaches caught in the traps never dropped significantly, despite monthly service.
“Our results are proof of IPM’s superior effectiveness, even when sanitation practices are variable,” Meek added. “The message is clear to the thousands of businesses that have yet to implement strict IPM principles to prevent pests—the old ‘spray and pray’ approach is simply outdated.”
About Virginia Tech
Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.
Virginia Tech’s Urban Pest Management Program focuses on promoting the adoption of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques to control arthropod pests in structures thus reducing the need for pesticide applications in the urban environment.