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Everett Dietrick's Five Features of IPM


The five points below follow the outline of "The Five Features of IPM" set forth by Everett J. (Deke) Dietrick in 1969. Examples are given of how all five features — avoid disruptive pesticides, build beneficial refuge, monitor insects, develop cultural practices, and release beneficial organisms — favor the development of cost effective pest control.

1 -- Avoid use of disruptive pesticides Food drives these systems, when you kill pests, you are killing the food or host of beneficial insects. Even seemingly safe pesticides may kill fungi on leaves that is a secondary food for some beneficials. Spray only if there is a pest problem! Repeated use of all classes of chemical poisons on your farm results in pest resistance to the poisons. The natural enemies of pests are also killed, or are starved away from the fields, and, therefore, do not have an equal chance to develop resistance as do the pests. Predators and parasites do not leave completely, but their numbers are significantly reduced compared to pest numbers. It sometimes takes several generations of beneficials to grow back the natural balance.

Certain dosages of conventional pesticides and insecticidal soaps and oils selectively kill pests and are less disruptive to biological controls. Our beneficials are compatible with "soft pesticides" like microbial insecticides, sterile male releases and pheromone mating disruption. The use of pyrethroids and broad spectrum pesticides is recommended only in extreme cases, as these kill many beneficials as well as pests.

2 -- Build beneficial refuges Strip or trap cover crops that are never sprayed offer a field insectary and winter refuge for beneficial insects without harm to market products. Parasites live several times longer and destroy more pests when there are weeds or other plants to provide pollen, nectar and refuge. Think of giving up 1% of your field for pest control. Much of this 1% can come from roadsides, borders, box ends and row ends. Sunflower and sorghum borders are particularly good habitats for growing lacewing and other natural enemies on the farm. Corn and alfalfa borders and interplantings of flowering plants can also increase Trichogramma parasitism of moth eggs in the crop. You can use trap crops to draw pests from your crop and raise beneficials on them. Corn is more attractive than cotton for corn earworm (=cotton bollworm) so interplant corn with a cotton crop. Trichogramma released on the corn can be found racing up and down silks parasitizing corn earworm eggs.

3 -- Monitor Insect Ecology Whatever is done in any field situation is always founded, as far as possible, upon the full knowledge of the interactions and ratios of the pests and their natural enemies. Therefore, monitoring should involve thorough sampling and observation of relative numbers of pests and all beneficials. Develop a system for scouting and assessing general trends in the change of pests and generalist predators in a given field as a guide for treatment or no treatment. You don’t have to count all the insects, just observe the ratio of pests to beneficials. One of the most important tools for monitoring is the D-Vac vacuum insect net. [Editors note: Everett helped invent the D-Vac and has produced them for forty years. He uses it to show farmers the progress of biological control, especially the tiny forms.] Keeping track of the beneficials and seeing the ratios of good and bad bugs makes it possible to predict damage thresholds in time to keep the yields optimum. D-Vac samples placed in alcohol and examined under a dissecting microscope show the progress of the entire natural enemy complex and is practical for decision-making.

4 -- Develop cultural practices Slight changes in farming to take advantage of the known behaviors of both the pests and the beneficials that attack them can avoid the pest flare-ups taken for granted under conventional chemical farming. Techniques of crop rotation, hedging and refuge management can make a difference. Strip cutting (harvesting alternate strips or fields of alfalfa or cover crops when they begin to bloom), for example, forces a steady migration of beneficials into nearby row crops yielding many times the natural enemies of uniformly cut hay fields or cover crops.

5 -- Release beneficial organisms: Rincon-Vitova distributes many biological control organisms; predators, parasites, pathogens and antagonists. These organisms attack different pests, sometimes target specific life stages, and often attack during a particular season. Ideally, releases are started as early in the season as possible, when the first pests enter fields. While each farm and season is unique, growers and pest control advisors can draw on Rincon-Vitova's reviews of published findings of biocontrol entomologists and experience to build a program tailored to their situation.

The primary purpose of following the five features above is to conserve natural enemies. IPM emphasizes beneficials and seeks to suppress particular pest levels so that rather than pest numbers rising explosively, they stay within tolerable damage levels with minimum loss of beneficials. 100% mortality of all pests is not required to prevent economic losses to the market crop. The IPM method gets easier each year, as a reservoir of natural enemies becomes established.