Issue 5, June 22, 2022

PAMS Approach to IPM

When you see an insect or weed, is your first impulse to reach for a pesticide and spray the problem away? Sure, it gives you immediate satisfaction to know that the pest has been sprayed and should die, and we hope that nothing comes back in its place. But what if there is something that we could have done to prevent this from even happening. Some basic principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) include the PAMS method. PAMS stands for Prevention, Avoidance, Monitoring, and Suppression.


Prevention tactics keep potential pests from entering an area or stop them from starting in new places. The key to prevention is understanding what the pest needs to survive.

    Common prevention tactics
  • Using pest-free certified seed, transplants, or other materials
  • Using good sanitation practices that remove pests 
  • Eliminating alternative hosts or habitats that facilitate pest movement
  • Cleaning equipment to avoid carrying pests such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and weed seeds to new areas
  • Placing or erecting barriers like fencing or netting
  • Make sure buildings are in good condition and potential foods are stored properly
  • Choosing proper landscapes for agriculture and urbanization that reduce naturally occurring overlaps with possible pests
  • Fumigating greenhouses between production cycles


Avoidance tactics limit the resources for the pest and create an inhospitable environment.   Prevention and avoidance tactics work best together when currently pest-free areas are also made unfavorable to pest development.

    Common avoidance tactics include
  • Rotating crops to avoid giving the pest access to preferred hosts
  • Selecting pest-resistant plants
  • Altering planting and harvesting dates to avoid weather favorable to pest development
  • Optimizing fertilizers, water, and plant spacing to produce stress-free plants 
  • Selecting locations that favor plant growth over pests, i.e., "right plant in the right place." 
  • It is sealing leaky windows and doors, removing debris in the interior, and repairing damp or rotting locations that are attractive to household pests.
  • Removing standing water that attracts mosquitoes and allows populations to build-up 


Monitoring is a multifaceted approach that includes: inspection/scouting, monitoring, and assessment.

Inspection/Scouting is the effort made to diagnose the cause of a known issue or the attempt to identify a pest. It requires one to become a detective looking for feeding damage or other necessary indicators to determine the actual cause of a problem. 

Once the pest is identified, it is crucial to understand its biology to determine the best time for control. This will also allow the pest manager to decide what tactics can be used to prevent pests in the future.  

Some crops or ornamentals have a known threshold. Before any suppression action is taken, determine if the pest has exceeded the threshold, the point at which the pest population or environmental conditions indicate pest control action must be taken. If the pest population is under the threshold, keep monitoring.

Monitoring tools

These tools are used to monitor and not control pests. This will allow you to identify the pests as potential culprits to damage that is evident and calculate if a threshold is met to warrant control.

  • Yellow sticky traps
  • Light Traps
  • Pitfall traps
  • Pheromone traps
    Vertebrate monitor traps include
  • Snap traps
  • Automatic traps
  • Non-toxic and toxic tracking powders
  • Trail cameras
  • Single catch cage or box traps


Suppression tactics are used when a pest has reached either an economic threshold or has caused an intolerable level of injury. Choice and timing of suppression tactics are based on the pest biology and behavior, limitations placed on the area where the pest is occurring, tolerance for injury, economics, and impacts of the control measures themselves. Initial efforts may include cultural, mechanical, biological, or other tactics to manage the pest. Pesticides are used as a control measure when other strategies will not bring the pest population under the threshold, or when other strategies are too expensive or time-consuming, or when the grower's quality or yield effects are unacceptable. The success of waiting until a pest reaches a threshold usually hinges on the availability of a pesticide that will quickly bring the pest populations down.

When it comes to pest control as a society, we tend to be reactive after there is a problem. We need to take a step back and look at how the situation got here and how to prevent it. Management tactics can be preventative, curative, or combined to provide the best possible program. Incorporating PAMS into your IPM program can significantly reduce your reliance on rescue treatments that often require the use of pesticides.

Maria Turner

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