Integrated pest management (IPM) is a strategic approach that focuses on applying common-sense strategies to control infestations while minimizing the negative impacts on the environment and people. It should be clear from that definition why many hoteliers who are focusing on green lodging put IPM into their goals.
Green lodging certifications are available for properties that satisfy defined standards for environmental sustainability. A hotel may work toward being officially recognized for green lodging in numerous ways, such as by installing low-flow showerheads and eco-friendly lightbulbs and using recycled materials in some of its buildings.
However, implementing an IPM strategy is another worthy part of green lodging efforts. Plus, if you’re trying to get your building certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, IPM can also come into play. That’s because it’s possible to earn LEED points for having an IPM plan for your building and the surrounding grounds.
Four main components go into making an IPM plan. We’ll cover them here.
1. Setting Action Thresholds
An action threshold specifies the point when it’s time to take action. Seeing one pest does not necessarily mean you need to do something about it. However, you should consider everything in context when creating your action thresholds.
For example, finding a mouse in your hotel restaurant’s kitchen is likely a more serious issue than finding a single ant in a guest room. When pests threaten your business’s economic success, they’re an issue. Also, your hotel may set zero-tolerance standards for some pests, which means finding one meets the necessary action threshold.
You’ll also need to identify any environmental characteristics that could make pest problems more likely, like a nearby swamp. Seasonal matters could also play a role in your action thresholds, particularly since critters often seek shelter and warmth indoors.
2. Identification and Monitoring of Pests
This component of IPM encourages people to see which pests are in their area, then verify whether they cause problems worth tacking. It’s impossible to get rid of all bugs at your hotel and on the grounds. However, your goals when implementing IPM for green lodging purposes are to see what you have, how many there are and whether they caused damage.
Also, monitoring can happen over a short-term basis, such as to see whether things worsen after two weeks. It should also occur regularly. Checking your hotel for minute changes that pests may cause can help you determine if there’s an adverse shift you need to address immediately.
Some companies make pest monitoring maps that display where they are during each season or the places they’re most likely to appear. Using those could make it easier to determine if a problem is becoming worse.
Once you know which pests are most problematic for your property, it’s a good idea to hire a professional company if needed. The insecticides sold over the counter are not as effective as the products professionals use.
An IPM strategy only involves pesticides as a last resort, such as when nonchemical methods didn’t work, or the matter is exceptionally severe. A professional company can advise you about which methods support your IPM plan while handling the problem.
Prevention is the first line of defense for pest control. That means engaging with all members of staff. Make sure they follow best practices and aren’t unknowingly doing things to attract bugs.
Also, pests can get inside by attaching to things that get brought inside the hotel, like boxes or pallets. Some may even come in on a person’s body or clothing. Having people do quick but thorough checks of themselves and their cargo could prevent insects from coming inside.
The control phase of IPM occurs when a situation meets action thresholds, and preventive measures are no longer adequate for keeping pests at an acceptable level. Often, this means using several methods that work better together than separately. The control segment of IPM encompasses four categories, and some techniques are part of multiple groups:
- Biological controls: Using a pest’s natural enemies — such as predators or competitors — to control it
- Cultural controls: Making changes to the surroundings that limit an insect’s ability to thrive
- Mechanical/physical controls: Getting rid of rodents with things like traps
- Chemical controls: Using pesticides while being careful to select ones that minimize environmental harm, and relying on the smallest amounts necessary to fix the problem
IPM Can Support Your Green Lodging Efforts
After reading this coverage, you should understand why IPM involves going through each of these steps. You shouldn’t do one while ignoring the others. However, when done properly, IPM aligns with operating as a green accommodation option.
Related article: 6 Ways to Run an Eco-Friendly Hotel
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Kacey Bradley is the blogger behind The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Guides for Brides, Hotel Online and more!
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Hi, I am Are Morch. Your Hotel Marketing Coach and Customer Experience Expert that teaches owners, general managers, director of sales, director of marketing and your team members how to use new digital marketing strategies that make every experience count and drives new business