Integrated Pest Management Program & Pesticide Use

Pest Management Program

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County, MD manages approximately 29,000 acres of parkland that include a multitude of parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, Community Centers, and many other amenities. The Department is in the process of updating and improving our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles to steward resources and protect them from pests (weeds, insects, animals, and disease) that may harm people or plants, impair function and deteriorate infrastructure.

Our Reduction Efforts

The result for Spring 2021 is the discontinued use of pesticides in spaces frequented by people and pets, such as playgrounds, dog parks, common areas, courts, and trails unless otherwise authorized with specific guidelines within the Department’s Integrated Pest Management program (IPM). 

In addition, The Department has determined park sites for the pesticide reduction program where no pesticides will be used unless there are public safety concerns involved. 


What are pesticides?

A pesticide is a substance used to kill, repel, or control pests.

There are many different types of pesticides including:

  • Herbicides that control weeds
  • Insecticides that control insects
  • Fungicides that prevent the growth of molds and mildew
  • Disinfectants that prevent the spread of bacteria
  • Rodenticides which are compounds used for controlling mice and rats

In addition to traditional synthetic pesticides, there is a group of approved organic products to manage a wide variety of pests. Where resources allow, the Department of Parks and Recreation will strive to utilize organic products that carry the Organic Materials Review Institute’s “OMRI-Certified” seal.

What is Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation doing to maintain athletic fields?

The Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County follows an integrated pest management program on all athletic fields. Skinned infields and warning tracks are managed primarily via mechanical means as resources allow. Turfgrass is managed using aeration, improved turfgrass cultivars, and a nutrient management program to produce healthy turfgrass. When pests exceed thresholds and could affect player safety, pesticides are an option for management.

What are pests and why must they be managed?

Pests include weeds, insects, animals, and pathogens that cause damage or harm. Pests are managed for many reasons including; to prevent harm to patrons, improve safety and accessibility, control invasive species, protect the forest and tree canopy of Montgomery County, maintain infrastructure, and complying with local, state, and federal laws.

What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach to solving pest problems by applying science-based knowledge about pests to prevent them from harming plants, landscapes, buildings, or people while minimizing risks to people and the environment.

There are four key components of IPM:

  1. Mechanical and physical control: this strategy uses tactics to remove or block a pest, like a mousetrap or mulch that smothers weeds.
  2. Cultural control: these methods include choosing pest-resistant plant cultivars, improving soils, and fertilizing to support healthy plants.
  3. Biological control: these strategies protect, conserve and introduce natural enemies – like predators and parasites—to keep pest populations in balance and prevent significant damage.
  4. Chemical control: this strategy includes conventional and organic products to reduce damaging pest populations. Effective products are applied using techniques that minimize harm to people, non-target organisms, and the environment.

IPM programs combine a variety of management practices for greater effectiveness, including:

  • Monitor plant health for early detection of pests.
  • Maintain scouting records with calendars and maps of pest outbreaks.
  • Assess pest population levels to determine damage potential and treatment thresholds.
  • Identify, conserve, introduce and protect biological control organisms.
  • Optimize timing of control measures based on season, pest life cycle, and environmental conditions.
  • Select pesticides (organic or conventional) with the low human risk that: are short-lived in the environment, are proven to effectively control the specific pest or pathogen, pose little threat to natural enemies and non-target species, and are rotated with pesticides of different resistance classes.
  • Choose equipment, nozzle, and application techniques to optimize control, reduce pesticide quantity and minimize drift to prevent off-target effects.
  • Review and evaluate treatment efficacy; modify as needed

When and where are pesticides used?

Pesticides are used in the context of an integrated program of controls (Integrated Pest Management). Integrated pest management favors nonchemical controls, such as physical, mechanical, and biological, over chemical. When pests cannot be controlled by alternative methods, chemical pesticides may be needed for parkland and facilities.

Schedule of Upcoming Pesticide Applications

For Additional Information Contact

Kyle Lowe

Maryland National Parks Commission