Biological control and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for protecting pollinators

For the past 30 years or more, most tree care professionals and many informed property owners have been managing destructive insects by minimizing pesticide use and encouraging predators and parasitoids that naturally keep pests under control.

May 1, 2019 - Author: , MSU Entomology; Diane Brown, and Erwin Elsner, ; , MSU IPM; Paula Shrewsbury, Univ. of MD Entomology; Daniel Herms, The Davey Tree Expert Company, Kent, OH; and Cristi L. Palmer, IR-4 Project-Rutgers

Bee on a cherry blossom.
Bee on a cherry blossom. Photo by Erwin Elsner, MSU Extension.

For the past 30 years or more, most tree care professionals and many informed property owners have been managing destructive insects by minimizing pesticide use and encouraging predators and parasitoids that naturally keep pests under control. This approach is referred to as Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and it includes using Best Management Practices (BMPs) for preserving beneficial insects. In most states, landscape professionals must attend educational classes on pesticide safety and best management practices to receive their pesticide applicator license, a requirement for purchasing restricted use pesticides. Minimizing pesticide use along with implementing other IPM practices protects water resources from pesticide runoff, minimizes exposure of people, pets and wildlife to pesticides, and provides stable long-term pest control instead of the frequent boom and bust pest cycles associated with preventive use of broad-spectrum pesticides.

The primary reason tree care professionals and property owners use pesticides is because of the devastating impact of invasive pests from Europe and Asia. Invasive pests multiply and sometimes completely destroy North American plants species for two reasons: (1) our North American plants may lack natural defenses (resistance) to invasive pests from Europe or Asia, and (2) invasive pest populations may build rapidly because we do not have the right predators and parasitoids to control them as in their native habitat.

Emerald ash borer, Japanese beetle and hemlock wooly adelgid are currently some of our most destructive invasive insects. Homeowners, business property owners and cities sometimes choose to use a pesticide to protect ash, hemlock and other trees and shrubs susceptible to invasive insects. However, when insecticides are used for invasive pests, they may impact pollinators and other beneficial insects and mites, including predators and parasitoids that keep plant pests under control. This publication is designed to provide best management practices for protecting a few valuable plants from invasive pests while minimizing the impact on pollinators and beneficial insects.

Note: When using any pesticide mentioned in this bulletin, read the label instructions and be sure the product is registered for use in the state where it is being used.

Read the next article in this publication series: Selection, planting and care of trees and shrubs to avoid the need for pesticides

Or return to the beginning of this publication: How to protect and increase pollinators in your landscape

Tags: bees, biological control, integrated pest management, msu extension, pollinator, protecting pollinators in urban landscapes


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