Introduction to Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are management practices that are designed to reduce pollutants and erosion while increasing the quality of all life. Insects, and pollinators in particular, are in decline and require additional efforts from the public to properly manage their yards, gardens, and landscape to promote insect diversity. Best management practices to conserve insect diversity while controlling insect pests of backyard landscapes, parks, green space and vegetable gardens utilizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM). 

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a science-based, decision-making process that uses pest biology, environmental information, and available technology to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage by the most economical means, while minimizing risk to people, property, resources, and the environment. IPM employs multiple management tactics, including biological, cultural, and chemical controls.

monarch best practices goldenrod
Monarch (Danaus plexippus) on goldenrod (Solidago rigida) in a backyard prairie. photo: Laurie Schneider

Land management, landscape designs and gardening for biodiversity with a variety of color and plant forms provides many benefits:

  • Beauty & diversity: The energy and activity of birds and insects, and the season change of both plants and animals provide diversity and visual enjoyment. Native plants in landscapes support a food web including birds, insects, and other animals. A variety of plant species provide food and shelter for birds and beneficial insects which help control pest insects.
  • Water filtration / carbon sequestration: Native plants are mostly perennial and have extensive root systems that hold soil and slow runoff. Particulate matter accumulates and the plants themselves absorb chemicals such as nitrogen and phosphorous that would otherwise enter groundwater.
  • Reduced erosion: Native plant root systems hold soil and reduce erosion. Shoreline buffer strips slow down water so it soaks into the soil, rather than racing down to the lake. 
  • Increased property values: People want to live in communities with clean water, land and habitats that attract wildlife, birds and pollinators.
  • Less maintenance: Once native plantings become established, they require less time, maintenance, mowing and watering, which conserves valuable water resources.
  • Less cost: Biodiverse landscapes and low-mow lawns use fewer or no herbicides and pesticides. Native plants are self-sustaining, overwinter, and support wildlife including beneficial insects, pollinators and native birds.
  • Uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to control insect pests and weeds. IPM is an approach that employs monitoring of plants, pests and weather to project ahead and plan. IPM addresses the source of pest problems, whereas pesticides simply respond to the pest. Ultimately, IPM helps in reducing pesticides, which is a key component in creating pollinator-friendly habitat. Pesticides are harmful to pollinators and beneficial insects. Healthy urban landscapes can be maintained with little or no pesticide use. Instead of routinely spraying for insects, spot treat only when necessary with soft pesticides such as soaps and oils