Integrated pest management (IPM) has its roots in
contemporary agriculture, in which questions of eco-
nomics—cost of treatments versus the value of bene-
fits—are a driving force.
Recently, IPM techniques
and philosophies with slightly different emphases
have been applied to urban pest management, which
concerns the direct interactions between people and
pests, whether in the innermost parts of a city, in a
suburban area, or in a comparatively rural location.
Like agricultural IPM, urban IPM applies pest man-
agement decisions on the basis of determined need,
instead of on the basis of preventive, or prophylactic,
Calling for a multidisciplinary approach,
urban IPM uses various nonchemical and chemical
techniques in an overall management strategy.
Unlike agricultural IPM decisions, however, urban
IPM decisions cannot be made on an entirely economic
basis (Gibb 1999), for often in urban environments no
commodity is produced, harvested, or sold.
IPM balances the cost of treatments with a human
Compared with economic gains in ag-
ricultural IPM, urban IPM quantifies human comfort
value less readily and becomes more subjective when
human tolerance of pests and quality of life are con-
Thus, a management decision based solely
on the economic return of pest control inputs is unre-
alistic in an urban environment.
Rather, urban IPM
is based on the premise that, even in the absence of
monetary value, damage can occur and pest manage-
ment can be justified.
Urban IPM includes a human factor rather than
an economic factor in the pest management equation.
For example, qualitative aspects such as aesthetics,
comfort, health, and peace of mind substitute in many
ways for the quantitative economics involved in agri-
cultural IPM decision making.
Because many of the
qualifying aspects for urban IPM are subjective, they
cannot be measured economically.
represents a major challenge in urban IPM and can
cause it to become very complex and subject to indi-
But the unifying and distin-
guishing characteristic of all urban IPM approaches
is the human factor.
Whether a pest is a pathogen,
Urban Integrated Pest Management
an insect, a weed, or a rodent, an organism that dam-
ages homes, structures, clothing, food, or landscape
plantings or harms, annoys, or otherwise interferes
with people and their activities is considered an
In urban IPM, social concerns replace economic
gains or losses as the driving force behind decision
Among these concerns are public attitudes,
perceptions, and prejudices regarding pests and pes-
ticides and their effects on human activity and the
Within the last few years, environmen-
tal and human health issues clearly have become
prime considerations of regulatory agency personnel.