Chemical herbicides used to be seen as the best way to control invasive plants, but the effects these chemicals had on the environment led to the creation of Integrated Pest Management, or IPM. PM is the practice of applying a combination of management methods to the pest in question before resorting to chemicals. These methods are categorized as cultural, mechanical and biological controls.
DC CWMA Chairman Damien Ossi with Living Classrooms, Sam Albert, performing IPM with mechanical and chemical controls on bush honeysuckle. Heritage Island, Washington, DC. May 2012
- Cultural control is education about invasive plants and how easy it can be to inadvertently spread plants around. Education signs along trails can be an effective form of cultural control.
- Mechanical controls are activities such as mowing, lopping and hand pulling. Pulling individual plants can be more effective than mowing since some invasive plants respond to mowing with more vigorous growth.
- Biological controls are usually insects or fungi from the invasive plant’s home range. Before they can be used, intensive research to determine their effectiveness in controlling the target plant and to ensure that they will not affect native plants and animals.
Often due to the hardiness of invasive plants, the IPM methods listed above are used along with chemical herbicides to achieve the highest level on control.