New York State IPM Program

July 16, 2014
by Joellen Lampman
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Tis the Zzzzzzzzzz Season

After a long winter, warm weather is  a welcome change. But no season is perfect. The air is abuzz with the zzzzzzzzzzz’ing of mosquitoes, a small insect that more than makes up for its size in its capacity to annoy.

The Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is an invasive day-biting mosquito from Asia.

The Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is an invasive day-biting mosquito from Asia.

But mere annoyance is not the extent of the problem with mosquitoes. Itching and swelling are one thing. Mosquito transmitted diseases are another. West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) show up annually in New York. As of July 10th, WNV has been reported. EEE has not been found yet. No reports of human positive cases have been filed. (Interested? Follow reports at the NYS Department of Health: Mosquitoes and Disease).

Conditions conducive to mosquito breeding.

Conditions conducive to mosquito breeding.

The most common mosquito is Culex sp., which has a very small territory. It usually stays within 300 feet from its breeding site — so ensuring there are no breeding sites on your property can go a long way in protecting you and yours. These mosquitoes aren’t picky about where they lay eggs. Almost any standing water will do. In fact, a bottle cap full of water can provide a breeding site. So check your yard for water in containers, tires, tarps, boats, children’s toys, rain gutters, bird baths, and unfiltered pools. Don’t forget to check your recycling bin.

When you find standing water, simply dump it out. (This just might be the easiest IPM solution ever!) Any existing eggs and larvae will desiccate and die.

The next step? Be sure that water can’t collect in that area again (what a great excuse to clean up) — or regularly dump, clean, and refill items such as birdbaths and children’s pools.

Adult mosquito emerging from its pupal skin. Dump any standing water to prevent this from happening.

This female mosquito emerging from its pupal case was found on a plastic sled that was put out of the way for the summer. Dump any standing water and put the sled in a storage unit to prevent this from happening.

For more information on mosquitoes and how to protect yourself, please read our publication, What’s all the Buzz About Mosquitoes, also available in Spanish.


July 15, 2014
by Mary M. Woodsen
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IPM’s Pest Pinochle Debuts at Empire Farm Days

efd_leaf_CMYK_richBlackEmpire Farm Days is coming back to Seneca Falls from August 5 – 7 for the umpteenth time. So, of course, is NYS IPM, with a table in the Cornell University barn just off the north parking lot.

We’re mixing it up a little this year — building our presence around a couple of pinochle decks. Pest Pinochle, to be exact. Decks are complete with:

Ken playing Pest Pinochle

Farm Aid attendees have fun learning about IPM the easy way.

  • Trouble and Solution cards for common farm or home pests (match them and get another turn)
  • Wild cards (discard the Trouble card of your choice)
  • Joker cards —lose your turn (and that’s no joke)

Choose between our IPM Farm or IPM Home decks — whichever’s the best fit for your situation. Be the first to get rid of all your Trouble cards and you’re the winner.

pest pinochle

July 3, 2014
by Elizabeth Lamb
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Bad News for Basil

Planning on pesto?  Basil downy mildew can leave you with a pot of pasta and no sauce.

Basil downy mildew is a fungal disease that can live on the seed and infect the plant as soon as it is planted.  It can also travel by airborne spores and infect plants that started out clean.  It only affects basil – but that isn’t good news when you’re hungry for fresh basil on your mozzarella.

What can you do to prevent the disease?  Start with a variety that is resistant –red leafed, Thai, lemon, lime and spice types are less likely to get sick than the common sweet basil varieties.  Space your plants far enough apart to get good air flow between them and some sun reaching all the leaves.  This fungus likes high humidity and tight plants make for damp conditions. And water from below  – drip irrigation if you have it – to keep the leaves dry.

If the basil is already looking lush, scout your plants. Look for yellowish areas on the upper surface of the leaves.  When you turn the leaves over, you will see gray speckles and fuzzy growth – that’s the disease producing more spores to send out on the next air current.    Sometimes the yellowish areas on the leaves will turn brown and die.  If only a few plants are affected, remove them as soon as possible – bagging the sick plants to avoid spreading spores to the healthy ones.


Fig.1: Yellowing of the upper surface of affected basil leaves often occurs in sections of the leaf delineated by veins because the downy mildew pathogen cannot grow past major veins in leaves. Photo: Margaret Tuttle McGrath, Dept. of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University.

basil with downy mildew

Fig.2: Purplish gray spores of the downy mildew pathogen only develop on the lower surface of leaves. These are the same leaves in Fig. 1. Sporulation coincides with yellowing on the opposite side of the leaf. Photo: Margaret Tuttle McGrath, Dept. of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University.

One positive note?  Unlike late blight in tomatoes – another fungal disease, basil downy mildew does not survive in the soil so you can start clean again next year.

Want more information? See Meg McGrath’s article on basil downy mildew, Expect and Prepare For Downy Mildew in Basil.


June 27, 2014
by Brian Eshenaur
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Watch for Pine Sawflies

Notice needle damage on pine trees?  Look close.  It may be caused by conifer-feeding sawflies.

Sawflies feeding on Scotch pine

Sawflies feeding on Scotch pine

Sawflies? As larvae they look caterpillars which might develop into moths, their name implies they’ll be flies, but they actually become non-stinging wasps as adults. And the saw? As adult wasps the females cut slits in pine needles with saw-like structures on the tip of their abdomens and lay eggs into these openings.

Checkout the synchronized movement they make to deter predators!

Although there are several species of sawflies that can be seen on conifers, the gray-green European Pine Sawfly (Neodiprion sertifer) is represented in this post.

European pine sawfly group

European pine sawfly group

Sawfly Management

  • Monitor to detect infestations before they reach a size that can cause significant needle loss.
  • Know that sawfly larvae are attractive as food to parasites and predators and are usually kept in check by these natural enemies.
  • If a small outbreak occurs they can often be handpicked, or pruned out and destroyed.
  • For rare situations where the population of sawflies are high insecticides labeled for their control can be used.

(Blog post content originally appeared at June 2014)

June 23, 2014
by Marion Zuefle
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Teaching Growers About IPM for Sweet Corn

Many growers practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM), but a refresher is always welcome. And of course, there are others that need a little convincing to try IPM.

This year we’re providing on-farm IPM demonstrations at three sweet corn farms throughout NY. Growers have agreed to set portions of their fields aside and let IPM practices decide when and how to best manage pests. If IPM goals are realized, fewer sprays should be needed for the same or even better quality corn.

Here’s how it works. First, we set up pheromone traps at each site. These traps are monitored weekly to detect sweet corn pests. When the sweet corn reaches a certain stage, scouting begins. This is when you look at the corn plants for any signs of eggs, worms or damage. This is done systematically so that the entire field is covered but without having to search each individual plant. After scouting the field, we tell the grower what we’ve found and recommend whether a spray is necessary or not.

To determine if IPM practices were an improvement to the growers’ standard practices, corn from the IPM managed field will be compared to corn from the grower managed field at harvest. Ideally the level of worms will be the same but the number of spray application will have decreased or the timing of the sprays will have improved making them more effective.

For more information on scouting see: How to Scout Fresh Market Sweet Corn

June 12, 2014
by Timothy Weigle
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Get Hopping? Cornell Hosting Hops Conference at CLEREL on June 21, 2014

The reemerging and geographically diverse hops industry in the Northeastern United States is being driven by a popularity of microbrews, home brewing, and the buy local food movement. The production of hops in the Northeastern United States is currently, and will continue to be, typically a small operation (0.5 – 10 acres). However, with an estimated gross income between $10,000 and $30,000 an acre and the lure of getting back to the land have people from all walks of life looking at hops production.

Today the production of hops in the United States is centered in Washington State where the average size of a hopyard in the Yakima Valley is between 500 – 600 acres.  The production resources developed for growers of these large commercial farms that do not translate well to Northeastern US hop yards due to the vast differences in size, geographical spread, and climate. In addition, hopyards in the reemerging Northeastern hops industry tend to focus on hop varieties that provide distinct aroma to a beer rather than trying to compete with the Pacific Northwest’s ability to mass-produce bittering hop varieties.

A scene from a recent Hop conference in western NY.

A scene from a recent Hop conference in western NY.

Ever wonder what a hop plant looks like or how the root system of a hops plant looks up close and personal? Have you wished you had the opportunity to talk with current hops growers to learn from their mistakes before you make them yourself? In response to the need for better regional information on hops production, the NYS IPM Program and the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program are hosting a conference on Saturday June 21, 2014 at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland, NY.

The morning session will start in the Brocton Central School’s auditorium for talks ranging from Lake Erie region growers Jack Voelker and Mike Moorhead providing their experiences planting a hop yard, to specialists from Cornell and Penn State giving details on processing and selling the hop harvest. Dan Minner, head brewer at Ellicottville Brewing Company will speak about hop production and utilization from a brewer’s perspective.

After a catered lunch, the meeting will travel a mile down the road to the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory hopyard. Here, participants will have the opportunity to break into small groups to get more detailed instructions on hop yard construction; irrigation and nutrition; pest management; an up- close look at a hop plant from the roots to the growing tip; and the opportunity to examine a small-scale hops harvester.  For more information on the Hops Conference please contact Kate Robinson at (716) 792-2800 ext 201 or by email at

Conference agenda can be found on the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program website.

June 10, 2014
by Joellen Lampman
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Why Is This Grass Weak?

front_lawn-struggling (2)

Thin weak turf leaves bare areas susceptible to erosion and weed invasion.

Let me count the ways. First, a little perspective – this is the front lawn of a school that was just renovated. There was little money to invest in the lawn and even less to help the struggling lawn.

Problem #1: Compaction

This area was the staging area for the equipment and material storage during school renovations, so we know right off the bat that this area is compacted.

The Fix: Aeration

To relieve compaction, a core aerator can be used to punch holes in the turf, pulling out soil cores. The holes left behind provide space for air and water movement and root growth within the soil. If the school does not own an aerator, a small one can usually be rented at a local hardware store for a nominal fee. In the NY Capital region, I am able to rent an aerator for $40 for four hours and $80 a day.

Problem #2: Excess Straw

Straw laid down to protect seeds and seedlings can eventually be detrimental to turf health.

Straw laid down to protect seeds and seedlings can eventually be detrimental to turf health.

We can still see a significant amount of straw that was put down to protect the seeds and seedlings. At this stage, however, the straw is actively competing against the turf. Soil bacteria need nitrogen to decompose the straw – nitrogen that is also needed by the grass.

The Fix: Feed Right

Typically you would wait until the fall to get the most out of your fertilizer, but in this case, the Cornell Turf Team recommends an inexpensive, quick-release nitrogen fertilizer, such as urea, to increase nitrogen levels in the soil and make it available to the struggling grass. A soil test will determine whether other nutrients are also needed.

Problem #3: Less Than Ideal Growing Conditions

On top of compacted soil, this area has no irrigation. In the Northeast you can have a lawn without irrigation, but you want to make sure to give the grass every other advantage.

The Fix: Mow Right

We recommended raising the mowing height – to allow for more and deeper root growth. Also, be sure that mower blades are sharp. Dull blades shred, not cut, leaf blades, creating more stress.

(Likely) Problem #4: The Wrong Seed

We can’t be sure, but it is a likely that the area was seeded with an inexpensive contractor mix. Choosing the right grass for the site is one of the most important steps you can take to solve a number of problems.

The Fix: Overseeding

Given the lack of financial resources, it is probably best to wait until the more ideal late summer or early fall before reseeding bare areas. To help choose what turfgrass seed to choose, visit the Cornell Garden-Based Learning website on choosing grass varieties.

Bare areas within weak turfgrass stands are susceptible to erosion and are practically an invitation for weeds to fill the void. The Child Safe Playing Fields Act prevents the application of an herbicide to either prevent or control weeds on school grounds, so providing a good growing environment to lawncaremaintain healthy grass is imperative. The above fixes, and more, can be found in detail in Lawn Care Without Pesticides: How to keep your grass healthy so that you can reduce or eliminate the need for lawn chemicals.

June 5, 2014
by Matt Frye
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The 80/20 Rule of Pest Activity

When a pest problem begins in an office or workshop, it might seem like the entire place is overrun. But more often the pests are feeding and breeding in just a few confined areas — making there way from there to other parts of the building. Pest managers call this the 80/20 rule, meaning that 80 percent of pest problems come from 20 percent of the area.

These two cases highlight the 80/20 rule:

Case One. The scene — a small office in a corporate building. What started as a few flies in the waiting room quickly escalated to hordes of flies around computers, lights, equipment — and guests — in every part of the office. These were Phorid flies — small, 1/8 to 1/4 inch long, but annoying nonetheless. How to ID them? For starters, they’re humpbacked and their wings have distinctive veins. They like to breed in rich organic material.

Our inspection took us to a part of the building that had been vacated several months prior — and we quickly found our problem’s source in an empty office, where swarms of flies surrounded a closed trashcan.

Spillage from the can had dried on the floor. And inside? Thousands of fly larvae and pupae — breeding in food discarded from a refrigerator emptied months before. This single trashcan was responsible for flies throughout the building.  The trashcan was bagged and removed, and sticky traps with an attractant captured the flies. Case closed.

Case Two: The scene — a school with an ongoing cockroach problem. Sightings had dropped dramatically over time, but still — building managers wanted to stay ahead of the game with proactive control measures. Our inspection found a few conditions conducive to pests, but none accounted for the large numbers of cockroaches previously seen.

Then — in a tucked-away part of the building, up a ladder and through a closed door, we came to a storage room. The place was littered with piles of frass (insect droppings) — which told us this area had

once hosted a large cockroach population. On the floor was dried sewage from an old leaky pipe, one that had recently been replaced. We had found the breeding and harborage site that attracted cockroaches in the first place.

The takeaway? If you have an abundance of pests, remember — the source is often in those areas that are out of sight, difficult to access, or otherwise hard to clean.

June 3, 2014
by Kenneth Wise
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Green Lacewing a Good one!!

That green fluttery insect near your porch light at night — with wings like green lace? That’s a green lacewing. Lacewings are beneficials — good insects, ones that prey on insects you don’t want. Actually, what you’ve seen is an adult lacewing; it feeds on flower nectar, pollen, and aphid honeydew. It’s the lacewing larvae that do the dirty work — that tackle pests.  

Green Lacewing Adult

Delicate it is — but before lacewings morph into adults, their larvae do serious damage to pests.

These larvae are fierce and active predators of aphids and other small insects in many agricultural crops. They’re often called antlions and look like little green-gray alligators. These larvae have sickle-shaped jaws that inject a paralyzing venom into their prey, then suck out the body fluids. Each antlion can feed on hundreds of aphids.

You can find lacewings on warm nights. Adults are light green with long, slender antennae, golden eyes, with large (relative to their size), lacelike wings 1/2 to 1/3 inches long. The larvae reach about 1/2″ long before they pupate.

Small but fierce, these larvae — antlions — do serious damage to pests.

Small but fierce, these larvae — antlions — do serious damage to pests.





Antlion photo credit Max Badgley

May 28, 2014
by Matt Frye
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Identifying Your Pest – with Poop?

Whether you are dealing with a pest problem, having car trouble, or trying to figure out who stole the cookie from the cookie jar, your job starts with an investigation — the information-gathering step where you search for clues. In pest management, inspection is the first and most important step toward addressing an issue, helping you discover what pest species are present — and why.

Here’s the scene: you’re inspecting a dark basement and happen upon some droppings. If from a rodent, your next step might be to look for more droppings, sebum trails (oily marks) that show where rodents have traveled, or chew marks. These clues help you determine how rodents are entering the building and where they are finding food, water and shelter. But fi the droppings are from cockroaches, your inspection will shift to looking for wet, decaying organic material and harborage areas.

For pest ID at work or at home, your eyes are your best tools — helped, perhaps, by a magnifying lens.

For pest ID at work or at home, your eyes are your best tools — helped, perhaps, by a magnifying lens.

But how do you tell the difference between the droppings?

Rodents dropping are relatively smooth and often pointed or tapered at one end Mice are smaller critters, so their droppings are typically less than ¼ inch long, whereas rat droppings are larger than 1/3 inch. Rodent droppings might also contain hair — rodents swallow it as they groom themselves.

Like other insects, cockroaches have structures called rectal pads that are used to absorb water and nutrients before their poop leaves their bodies. The orientation and shape of these pads gives insect droppings unique shapes. In the case of cockroaches, droppings appear to have ridges. For more information, see this pictorial key to rodents.

By conducting a thorough inspection and correctly identifying pests, you can develop an action plan to reduce their populations and prevent them from coming back.