Insect Management

Determining habitat requirements for natural enemies of crop pests

One of the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s stated goals is to “take a systemsmanagement (rather than an input-substitution) approach to solving production problems.” This goal is exactly in line with my research: I am studying the mechanisms of natural pest control to promote systems management rather than input-substitution solutions to pest problems. Inputsubstitution approaches to pest control use organic pesticides in place of the more common conventional chemicals, which farmers have found time and again to be ineffective.

Fungi, Predatory Mites and Guardian Plants for Thrips IPM in Organic Greenhouse Ornamentals

This project addressed a serious pest of organic greenhouse production nationally. In Vermont, thrips are the most common reason for organic growers suspending organic practices in their greenhouse crops, fearing the loss of their entire crop to this persistent virus-transmitting pest. Even growers who rely on chemical control find the standard insecticides ineffective due to resistant pest populations. Biological control approaches for thrips will directly benefit organic producers, but will also meet the need of “traditional” growers who seek to produce plants more ecologically.

Enhancement of Biological Control with Insectary Plantings

Beneficial insectary planting is a form of conservation biological control that involves introducing flowering plants into agricultural and horticultural systems to increase nectar and pollen resources required by some natural enemies of insect pests (Landis et al. 2000). Many predatory and parasitic insects rely on pollen and nectar for their survival and reproductive success. Two examples of such insect groups are hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) and several species of predatory and parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera).

Cucumber beetle mass trap development and field evaluation

On most farms, Diabrotica beetles are only severe in certain years, a pattern for which there is yet no analysis. Therefore, for most organic farms these beetles are tolerable in most years. However, in certain seasons some help in reducing numbers may mean the survival of many crops, particularly where beetle damage to seedlings essentially destroys the crop. Example crops are beans and early season cucumbers. Sweet corn is also such a crop, although the damage only interferes with the proportion of kernels which are fertilized.

Study of plant diversity adjacent to a monoculture system: Effects on beneficial arthropod populations and vineyard pest control

From March 15 and throughout the 1997 growing season, intensive weekly sampling of herbivorous insects (mainly leafhoppers and thrips) and associated natural enemies (mainly Anagrus sp and Orius sp) have been conducted in two adjacent Chardonnay vineyard blocks of 5 acres each, North of Hopland. Both blocks are managed organically with half of the area of each block planted to summer cover crops (buckwheat and sunflower), and the other half maintained with bare ground.

The impact of dust deposits on insectary-reared and released parasites in transitional and organic citrus orchards using perennial vs. annual tilled cover crops

As a critical component to the sustainability of both transitioning and organic citrus orchards it is important to understand the impact of foliar dust deposits on the survival of insectary reared Aphytis melinus and Metaphycus helvolus used respectively for the biological control of California red scale and black scale.