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IPM: USING THE 80/20 RULE

When thinking about IPM in Pest Control, think about the 80/20 principle – which are the top actions to take (20%) to deliver the biggest reduction in pests (80%).

A recent article in PCT technology magazine suggested that success in rodent IPM (integrated pest management) can be considered in light of the 80/20 rule.

According to Myron Baumann of P&M Pest Consulting, “If 80% of the effort is spent on preventing pest infestations, the other 20% will provide better and easier results with less toxic methods of treatment.” While this is not actually the correct interpretation of the 80/20 rule, the sentiment is accurate.

Certainly we have all heard the phrase, “Prevention is better than the cure.” Well in rodent control, and arguably in most pest control situations, eliminating the conditions that give rise to pest problems can have the single biggest impact on populations. For rodents, removing potential food and water sources, eliminating potential entry points and eliminating potential nesting sites, will go a long way to preventing a rodent problem. For the ongoing management of rodents in commercial accounts this is a must.

However, the 80/20 rule is actually something different but equally applicable to IPM programs. The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle named after the economist who developed the rule, essentially states that approximately 80% of the results come from 20% of the action.

As such, if we are talking about applying the 80/20 rule to a pest control situation, we are trying to identify the top pest control actions we can take (20%) to deliver the biggest reduction in pest population (80%).

Good practice hygiene is one of the top actions that can have a big impact on pest control populations

Identifying the actions required depends on correctly identifying the causes of the problem and this can only be determined by a thorough inspection. Don’t jump to applying a pesticide treatment as the first solution. It’s not only because it goes against the principle of IPM, it’s not smart business or smart pest control – there may be other solutions that are cheaper, quicker, of reduced environmental impact and more enduring, key considerations in managing long term commercial clients. For example, think cleaning drains to eliminate or prevent a drain fly problem.

The 80/20 principle can also be applied to customer actions as well as to any pest manager activities. More often than not, pest managers will provide customers with a list of activities they need to carry out to help minimise or prevent pest problems. These are often general maintenance or sanitation suggestions, but often it’s a long list! Consider how you present these suggestions to the customer, as they are unlikely to carry out all your requests. If you highlight the top two or three actions that can deliver the biggest impact, there is more likelihood they will complete the tasks with the resulting benefit.