New York State IPM Program

April 7, 2017
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Every Day is Earth Day — and the IPM Connection

Every Day is Earth Day — and the IPM Connection

Consider our forests and farms. Our rivers and lakes. And yes, our homes and workplaces. Wherever we live, work or play — when we care for our surroundings, we’re celebrating Earth Day.

Belong to a community garden? Got a garden by the house? You can welcome Earth Day by welcoming the critters that make any garden a healthy garden.

The IPM connection? It could be

  1. the bugs that eat other bugs — bugs you don’t want
  2. the core IPM practices you use to prevent problems
  3. the pollinators that ensure you have fruits and veggies for dinner

    lady beetle larvae Lady beetle larva among the aphids

    This critter looks a little freaky. But hey, it’s on your side. It just found a nice patch of aphids and as a growing larva, it’s got the munchies.

Let’s take a look at number 1 — and the critter in the photo. Creepy, no? But it’s a ladybug larva. Who knew? Now take a look at all those green critters. Aphids. Aphids are bad news for your gardens or crops.

During its short lifespan as a larva, this ladybug-in-waiting will eat about 400 aphids. Once it’s become an adult, it’ll eat about 5,000 more.

Which leads us to core IPM practices and number 2. Provide good habitat for predators like ladybugs and you’ll have healthier plants. Which in turns leads to number 3: pollinators. Because if you don’t have healthy plants, you won’t have healthy flowers — and the fewer flowers, the fewer pollinators.

The cycle of life. Every day is Earth Day.


October 24, 2014
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Critters Can Do — Match the Pest and What It Does

Critters Can Do — Match the Pest and What It Does

Match the critter to what it does — or in one case, what natural force could kill it. (Answer key below.)


can do

mouse 1 eats pests of crops or pollinates them — or both
cockroach 2 emerges from cocoon when it feels vibration of approaching host
aphid 3 makes tunnels within leaves
flea 4 killed by raindrops
wasp 5 squeezes through a hole the size of a dime
leaf miner 6 live weeks — perhaps months — without food
paper wasp

This wasp helps control pests while doing adjunct duty as a pollinator. Photo courtesy Ward Upham, Kansas State University,

leaf miner

This chrysanthemum leaf-miner is the larvae of a fly-family pest. Photo courtesy Central Science Laboratory, Harpenden Archive,

Answer key:


can do

mouse 5
cockroach 6
aphid 4
flea 2
wasp 1
leaf miner 3

Where the links will take you:

  1. Some large stinging wasps eat crop pests; others help pollinate them. Some do both.
  2. Yes, different researchers say different things. Just know that cockroaches can survive without food for a couple of weeks and maybe much longer. (At need, “food” could include wallpaper paste, envelope glue, and more.)
  3. “For an aphid, a raindrop is something like what a refrigerator would be like falling on us,” said researcher Jeremy McNeil, an entomologist and chemical ecologist at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.
  4. Fleas can live a long time inside the cocoon they pupated in — until they sense a host nearby.
  5. Follow the link to a fun, one-minute video of a fat mouse scrambling through a tiny hole.
  6. Their name (they dig mines, as it were) gives them away — but you’d be surprised at how many different sorts of insects have larvae that burrow through something as thin as a leaf.
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