Pest Management – The Difference Between Prevention and Suppression

Pests are organisms (insects, fungi, viruses, bacteria, nematodes, rodents, and vertebrates) that damage, degrade or destroy crops, gardens, forests, lawns, and homes. They also negatively impact terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

The goal of pest management is prevention, suppression, and control. Information about pests and their environment helps select effective management practices and use them at appropriate times. Click to know more.

The age-old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” rings true when it comes to pest management. Preventive measures are far more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than battling a problem once it has occurred. Prevention can take many forms. In a home, it may mean regularly wiping down counters and vacuuming floors to banish food residue or dust that can attract rodents. In a warehouse, it may involve reviewing sanitation guidelines for incoming products to ensure they are not carrying pests from one facility to another. It might also mean assigning cleaning tasks to employees and establishing uniform cleaning procedures that help prevent flies, cockroaches and other pests from infiltrating facilities.

A commercial facility’s prevention strategy should focus on removing the food, water and shelter that pests need to survive. This could include sealing the smallest cracks and gaps where pests might gain entry, ensuring that trash cans are tightly sealed and regularly removed, and cutting away overhanging trees and shrubs that could provide harborage for rodents.

It is also important to educate workers about pests and their life cycles. This can help them recognize early signs of pests and enable them to act quickly to reduce their numbers. It can also make it easier for workers to select the best control techniques, as some methods are only effective at certain stages of a pest’s life cycle.

For a grower, proper soil management can prevent pests by eliminating weed seeds and reducing nutrient competition with crop plants. Regularly scouting fields to identify pest populations and conditions can help determine the need for post-emergence pest controls, such as fungicides or insecticides. It is also helpful to understand the biology, behavior and habitat of specific pests in order to select the most appropriate and effective control techniques. This information can also help guide the design of pest monitoring programs and improve the ability to identify optimum environmental conditions for sustainable agricultural production. In the end, everyone benefits from the use of pest prevention strategies, which reduce the need for chemicals that might adversely affect human and ecological health.


Unlike prevention, suppression focuses on reducing pest numbers that have already become a problem. Suppression strategies include spraying or using natural enemies to keep pest populations below damaging or intolerable levels. People may also supplement or import natural enemies, such as parasites, predators or pathogens. They may also use pheromones or juvenile hormones to control pests. The goal is to suppress pests in a way that causes as little harm as possible to the non-target organism, environment or people.

Some pests are continuous, meaning they are always present and require suppression. Others are sporadic and only appear under certain conditions. Sporadic pests are more predictable and may be controlled before they cause damage. Some pests are only a threat in one place and can be eliminated from another area by avoiding or altering the environment where they thrive.

To achieve the best results, suppression activities should be done in concert with prevention and monitoring efforts. Regular surveys or scouting programs should be conducted to record pest incidence and distribution so that crop rotation selection, economic thresholds and suppressive actions can be determined. Soil testing and weather monitoring can also be useful. These data can help determine how much water and nutrients the soil will need, which will reduce the amount of chemicals needed to reach these targets.

Suppression methods are usually more expensive than preventive measures, but they often save money in the long run by preventing large amounts of damage. They also may be less harmful to the environment, as they cause fewer environmental problems such as contamination of water sources and loss of biodiversity. Suppression strategies should also be designed to minimize the development of pest resistance, which increases costs and limits the effectiveness of control tactics.

Biological controls, such as releasing natural enemies or using sterile insects, can be used to keep pests below damaging or intolerable levels. Natural enemies are organisms that naturally attack or prey on pest species, such as predators, parasites, pathogens and weeds. Introducing new enemies into an area can increase the predator or parasite population and keep pest numbers low, but this method is not usually eradication because there is a lag between pest populations increasing and the number of natural enemies in an area.


Pests are organisms that damage or devalue crops, food stores, gardens, lawns and recreational areas. They can also cause health and safety problems for humans, pets or livestock. They can carry and spread disease, and they interfere with normal ecosystem functions.

In general, a pest problem is considered to require action when the pest populations exceed acceptable levels in any given location or time. This threshold is determined by scouting, monitoring and observing other conditions that may influence pest numbers and activity, such as soil problems, plant disease, and moisture levels.

Threshold-based decision-making is an important aspect of implementing control methods, such as using trap crops like zinnia to lure Japanese beetles. When the beetle population is high, they can then be eliminated with a few squirts of insecticide.

Some pests are more troublesome than others. Insects can contaminate food and other daily-use items, cause allergic reactions or worsen asthma. They can also transmit diseases, including salmonellosis and other food-borne illnesses, such as hepatitis and leptospirosis. Rodents pose a significant health risk for their teeth and droppings, and can carry disease-causing bacteria such as salmonella.

Control methods include natural, biological, cultural, chemical and mechanical controls. Natural controls, such as weather or topography, limit the growth of a pest population by limiting the availability of resources, changing habitat, or restricting access to suitable feeding, breeding, resting and watering areas. Biological controls use organisms that injure or consume pests, such as parasites, predators, and pathogens. Chemical controls include both naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals, such as fungicides, herbicides and insecticides.

Using a combination of control tactics can help achieve the best results and minimize environmental impact. Mechanical and physical control techniques include traps, barriers, screens, nets and fences to prevent pests from entering or leaving an area. Other control methods alter the environment, such as modifying temperature and humidity, or using radiation and electricity.

Regardless of the method chosen, it is always important to protect personal health and safety. Observing product labels and basic personal protective equipment (PPE) can help keep workers safe. This includes wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants and closed-toe shoes to reduce the chance of bites or scratches. Taking the time to learn about pests and their habits can also help prevent the need for unnecessary control measures.


In pest management, monitoring is checking or scouting to see what kind of pests are present, how many there are and what damage they are doing. It’s a basic part of integrated pest management (IPM). Monitoring helps you decide whether to use prevention or control tactics and determine how often those tactics need to be used. Monitoring can also help you find the right type and amount of pesticide to use.

Monitoring helps you understand the behavior of pests, including how they develop and where they are moving, so that you can predict when a problem may occur. For example, if you know that a certain crop will be vulnerable to an insect infestation, you can plant the crop in a field where you can protect it with physical barriers or planting in a row protected by tarps. This prevents the need for routine pesticide applications and protects your yields.

Identifying the right timing for applying control measures can be a challenge, but it is important to get the timing right. If you apply a chemical to kill the pest too soon, the problem will likely recur and you will have wasted your time and money. On the other hand, if you apply a chemical too late, it might not be able to stop the problem or it might kill valuable plants and cause other problems.

IPM programs work to reduce pesticide use by using monitoring to ensure that any spraying is only done when necessary and that it is applied at the correct life-cycle stage. These programs help to avoid the development of resistance to pesticides.

A threshold is the level at which a pest becomes a nuisance or causes unacceptable harm. Thresholds are determined by monitoring for the pest, and they are different for each situation. For example, the threshold for long horn grasshopper in oil palm is five nymphs per palm/ha.

In general, the goal of IPM is prevention or suppression, but eradication is also possible in enclosed areas like dwellings, schools and offices; operating rooms and other sterile spaces in health care facilities; and food processing, food preparation and storage facilities. In these situations, eradication can be the most desirable outcome of monitoring and intervention.