A great addition to your garden tool kit
By Rebecca Jepsen
If you aren't already familiar with the University of California Integrated Pest Management website (www.ipm.ucdavis.edu) you should definitely check out the upgraded site and add it to your online favorites.
Integrated Pest Management is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices.
IPM programs use comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interactions with the environment in order to provide economical control with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
When the UC IPM website was created in 1996, it was the first comprehensive pest management site in the world. It offers a wealth of science-based solutions for home gardeners as well as agricultural professionals.
With more than 10,000 visitors per day, it is the go-to site for statewide Master Gardeners, as well as providing up-to-date, critical pest control information to farmers, retail nurseries and landscape pest management professionals.
In October, the UC IPM team did a major upgrade to the site. The goal was to update it, improve the quality and quantity of photos and videos, and make it more user-friendly.
The site now has thousands of photos covering more than 1,000 different pests. You will find specific information on more than 300 varieties of ornamental plants, flowers, fruit trees and vegetables. And, the more than 150 "pest notes" provide in-depth research on insects, plant diseases, nematodes, vertebrate pests and weeds.
The site will help you identify the good bugs and the bad bugs, and it also will allow you to search for the type of plant, flower or fruit you are trying to grow and learn about common insects, viruses or other pests that might be posing a problem. Also covered are household pests such as cockroaches, fleas and mice.
You will learn about biological control (the use of natural enemies such beneficial predators, parasites and pathogens), cultural control (practices that limit or prohibit the survival of the pest such as reduced watering), mechanical and physical control (killing or removing the pest such as mulching weeds or trapping gophers and moles) and chemical control (when and what pesticides to use that will also protect yourself, your pets and the planet).
"Our focus is on providing environmentally sound solutions," says Mary Louise Flint, associate director of the IPM Program at UC Davis.The emphasis is on providing information about pest preventions, nonchemical controls, use of natural enemies and, she says, when pesticides are necessary, the use of safe, less toxic products such as soaps and oils. "Our site also provides a lot of information about impacts of various pesticides and water quality issues," Flint says, "related to urban use of
Winter is the best time to do one of the most important jobs of a good gardener -- research. You can stay warm and bundled up with your favorite blanket while exploring the IPM website.
The Master Gardener programs are UC Cooperative Extension, county-based volunteer organizations dedicated to providing research-based gardening information to home gardeners. And they love sharing information and answering questions.
Santa Clara Master Gardeners, 408-282-3105, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. http://mastergardeners.org/scc.html