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Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

What Is Integrated Pest Management? [PDF - 356 KB]

Photo: Norway rats caught in a trap.

Photo of Norway rats caught in a trap.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a science-based, commonsense approach for managing populations of disease vectors and public health pests. IPM uses a variety of pest management techniques that focus on pest prevention, pest reduction, and the elimination of conditions that lead to pest infestations. IPM simply means (1) don’t attract pests, (2) keep them out, and (3) get rid of them, if you are sure you have them, with the safest, most effective methods.

Community and resident education are vital to successful IPM programs.

For IPM to succeed, environmental health specialists must take into account the behavior and ecology of the target pest, the environment in which it is active, changes that occur in the environment, and the activities of people who share the environment. An IPM approach works best when used with techniques that actively involve communities and residents in addressing issues that may contribute to pest infestations, such as home maintenance, sanitation, and housekeeping.


Although IPM may include the use of pesticides, the primary components of IPM clearly separate it from typical pest control practices that rely exclusively on trapping and poisoning. Those five components are

  • Inspection/monitoring: Routine examination of indoor and outdoor areas to identify if pests are present or if conditions exist that are conducive to pest infestations. A major inspection is done when starting an IPM program; regular inspections continue as part of a long-term commitment to IPM.
  • Identification: If inspections reveal the presence of rodents or insects, determination of the type (species) of pest is critical for establishing effective control methods. For example, rodent control methods would be different for roof rats versus Norway rats.
  • Establishment of threshold levels: Elimination of all pests may not be practical in many situations. Thresholds should be established by which enhanced control methods are used when pest populations reach a predetermined level based on potential health impacts or damage to property or the environment.
  • Implementation of two or more control measures: The foundation of IPM is managing the environment to eliminate pest access to food, water, and shelter. Using control techniques that focus on eliminating at least two of these essentials that pests need to survive will result in substantial reductions in pest populations.
  • Measurement and evaluation: Regular follow-up is necessary to determine whether treatments are successful and what should be done next. Evaluation is one of the most critical components of an IPM plan.
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IPM is a comprehensive, systems-based approach to pest management with the goal of providing the safest, most effective, most economical, and sustained remedy to pest infestations. IPM reduces the risk from pests while also reducing the risk from the overuse or inappropriate use of hazardous chemical pest-control products.

Online Training

IPM is addressed in several EHS-sponsored online training courses.

  • CDC1201: Control of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Other Tick-Borne Diseases Through IPM: A 3 day workshop recorded in Chandler, Arizona, in February 2012. The primary purpose of this course is to provide strong foundational knowledge for the control of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other tickborne diseases through the science of IPM, including effective animal control. The training provides public health professionals and partners with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively reduce tick-borne illnesses with special emphasis on Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
  • CDC1001: Biology and Control of Vectors and Public Health Pests: The Importance of Integrated Pest Management: A 2½-day workshop recorded in New Orleans in January 2010. This course includes lecture, discussion and visual training on IPM to control insects and rodents, with a specific emphasis on the biology and control of rodents and bed bugs. This course is a modified and updated version of CDC0702, Biology and Control of Insects and Rodents, but does not include all previous modules such as tick control and bioterrorism. In addition to detailed training in rodent and bed bug control, this course also includes a new module on the effects of global climate change on pests and disease vectors.
  • CDC0702: Biology and Control of Insects and Rodents: A 2-day NEHA preconference workshop recorded in 2007 and 2008. This course includes lecture and discussion on IPM, vectorborne diseases, biology and control of insect and rodent vectors and public health pests, effective pest control methods, and vectorborne diseases as possible bioterror agents.
  • 08. Zoonoses, Vectors, Pests, and Weeds: This course includes a pretest, an individual 40- to 60-minute module, and a posttest. Course content includes information on various roles and responsibilities of environmental public health staff. The course is one of 15 Environmental Public Health Online Course modules.

Tailored Training

EHS provides tailored regional versions of Biology and Control of Vectors and Public Health Pests: The Importance of IPM. More than 750 environmental health professionals throughout the United States have enhanced their vector control skills by taking the live version of this course.

  • EHS offered the course on June 12-14, 2012, in Mission, Kansas. Attendees were environmental health professionals from Kansas and Missouri.
  • Through a partnership with the Indian Health Service (IHS), a special version of the course is offered to a specific tribal region of the country. The most recent IPM course for tribes was offered for the Portland (Oregon) Area of IHS on March 14-16, 2012.
  • EHS offered the course on February 13-15, 2012, in the Phoenix tribal area. This version was tailored to Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). Attendees represented the Intertribal RMSF Task Force, Arizona, multiple tribes, and IHS.

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