Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Venerable IPM Practitioner

The IPM Practitioner is one of those almost venerable institutions of pest control. I just checked their website and it says they've been publishing for 33 years, which I guess is why they seem venerable--they've been publishing as long I've been associated with pest control. And I've followed their writing and their natural take on pest control for at least the last 24 years.

The magazine and its associated publications are from a group called the Bio-Integral Resource Center out of Berkeley, California. So yes, they're from the place Texans wryly refer to as the "Left Coast". BIRC does have a point of view, but I've always appreciated their science-based, if alternative, approach to pest management.

Some of you may have been introduced to the group through the book Common Sense Pest Control, a product of former BIRC staff. While I don't always agree with the practicality of some of the least toxic pest control solutions offered, there's a lot of good information in the book. I recommend it as a reference, especially for PMPs looking for non-chemical or low-risk alternatives for pest problems. And it provides a source of interesting notes on the biology and behavior of pests that are sometimes missed by other references.

The reason for mentioning BIRC today is that IPM Practitioner just published their 2013 Directory of Least-Toxic Pest Control Products.  As usual, they generously make available free a pdf copy of this catalog online. While not all of the products and information that the Directory deals with relates to structural pest control--much of it is agriculture-oriented--there is quite a bit of household and commercial pest control-related stuff to be found.

There's something almost anachronistic about a printed catalog these days when just about everything can be Bing'ed or Google'ed. But by taking a bunch of stuff that the Internet would have a hard time finding, and putting it in one odd place, this publication somehow finds its niche.  Basically what the directory does is list alternative pest control products and tells you where they can be purchased.

Like any good catalog there's a lot of interesting stuff to discover, like lists of beneficial insects for pests and where to find them. Did you know you can purchase a parasitoid for the brown-banded cockroach called Anastatus tenuipes?  How cool is that? The Directory does not necessarily comment on the effectiveness of these products.  And it's definitely buyer-beware.  But if you have a customer looking for a source of green lacewings for the garden, you can be "THE Man" (or THE Woman) if you use your Directory to locate a seller of green lacewings. You might even find sources for fancy tech toys, like borescopes for termite inspections, that you didn't know existed.

So let gardeners pour over their seed catalogs this winter. We PMPs have the Directory of Least-Toxic Pest Control Products.  Take it from a venerable entomologist, gardeners' got nothing on us.

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