What is Integrated Pest Management?

IPM is about using all the tools available to us to control. IPM has long been used by commercial farmers, but can also be used to improve home garden pest control! By using a thoughtful approach to managing pests, we can eliminate poisons and achieve a balanced garden.

IPM consists of three components: (1) cultural controls (2) biological controls and (3) chemical controls. The best way to think of IPM is working with nature to control pests. Sometimes with natural systems, we need to help get the balance right, but over the longer term the need for such help should get less and less.

IPM also requires a shift in attitude and accepting some damage. This does not mean a pest eaten garden, but it does mean accepting that a few pests are a good thing! IPM should not be considered a ‘quick fix’!

Cultural Controls for the Garden

The most important part of successful pest management is to understand your garden. Every minute in the garden is an opportunity to undertake some pest management by simply observing what is happening. The majority of insects in the garden are ‘neutral’! If you see insects in the garden, but no damage then there is no need to act.

Examples of cultural control include:

  • Plant a mix of flowering plants to attract good bugs
  • Use plants that are resistant to pests
  • Design the garden to avoid problems
  • Maintain good air flow, suitable plantings, and a range of different habitats for bugs
  • Start clean and stay clean” – buy good quality plants and inputs
  • Remove pest infested plants immediately
  • Maintain good soil and plant health – a healthy plant will resist pest attacks

Biological Control Options

Biological control refers to the use of control agents that are themselves living. The ones we normally think of are predators like ladybirds and lacewings. However, it also includes jumbo predators like spiders, birds, lizards & frogs, as well as minute creatures such as parasitic wasps, nematodes, and even fungi. Many of these occur naturally, and only require a bit of cultural management to encourage them to thrive and work for you.

Chemicals are a last resort!

IPM recognises that sometimes a pesticide may be needed to manage a serious problem. It is important to understand all the impacts of using a particular pesticide, and whether it may well make the problem worse. Choose a ‘soft’ pesticide that targets the problem. An example is to use an oil spray that targets stationary pests such as scale insects or aphids, but allows predators such as ladybirds to move away from the spray area.

Getting Started

All you need to get started with IPM is the right information and attitude!

A magnifying glass is also useful to see what is going on. It is also a good idea to keep a record of when you see problems, what worked and didn’t work, and any other useful information.

A. This concern is sometimes referred to as the Cane Toad Effect! We are right to be cautious of creating another cane toad episode in Australia, but the products supplied by Bug Central are completely safe, and will not turn feral! The majority of the products we supply are actually Australian native insects, found throughout the country. Those products Bug Central supply that are not natives have been widely used in commercial horticulture for many years and have proven not to be harmful to our environment.
A. Control will not be as dramatic as when you apply a pesticide. Biological control using good bugs aims to maintain a low level of pests that will not cause damage to your plants. If all the pests are killed, then the good bugs will die out, and the pest can re-infest from neighbouring areas. Do not expect instant results, and expect to see a few pests around the garden. A balance of good and bad bugs is the sign of a healthy environment!
A. The product will be supplied with information on how long the insects will survive prior to release. In most cases this will be a few days after you receive them. We try to send your order by Wednesday or Thursday each week, so the release can be done on a weekend. Bugs can usually be stored for a few days in a cool place (not a refrigerator, but a cool spot out of direct sunlight).
A. Once you receive your good bugs in the post, you need to release them in the garden. Details of how to do this are included with each product, but some general rules apply:

Ensure no chemical residues are around on the plants

  • Always release the bugs close to the target pest
  • For those products that are live insects, releasing in the late afternoon or evening will help to keep the bugs close to the target pest
  • Release the bugs within the timeframe indicated on the packaging information
  • Avoid harsh weather such as extreme heat or cold if possible

If in doubt, you can contact bugs@bugcentral.com.au


A. IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management. This term refers to the use of a range of control measures to manage pest populations in a sustainable way. Whilst IPM utilises the most environmentally friendly option available, it does not exclude the use of pesticides if absolutely necessary.

Download our Fact Sheet on IPM if you would like to learn more..

Register Your Interest Subscribe