Thursday September 26th was the Planting for Beneficial Habitat Twilight meeting. Attendees learned how habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects show good stewardship of the land. Dr. Dunn explained several methods of establishment, the benefits of hosting pollinators and other beneficial insects, and their impact as biological control.
Dr. Amara Dunn speaks with Cooperative Extension visitors.
Evergreen plantings on the NYSIPM plot, Cornell Agritech Fruit and Vegetable Research Farm
Does adding beneficial habitat reduce pest pressure on Christmas tree plots? We hope to find out.
Despite stormy skies, the Twilight Event was a success
Brian Eshenaur and Amara Dunn address attendees of the Twilight Meeting
Keuka College students in Dr. Bill Brown’s Animal Diversity class compare pairs of insect samples. Dr. Betsy Lamb invited them to hypothesize differences in collected insects at varying locations within the plots, and at different times of the year.
Thank you to all who helped make these teaching events possible!
April 22, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Weeding Robot!
Many of us love gardening. But not many of us enjoy weeding. Robots to the rescue!
Franklin Robotics has built a robot to control weeds and they sent us one of their prototypes for initial testing before it hits the market. Their robot, Tertill, moves around the garden with a string-trimmer (a.k.a. weedwacker) that cuts up small weeds while its sensor allows it to move around your larger, planted flowers or vegetables. Its wheels are also designed to dislodge small weeds.
While this robot is designed for small gardens, larger robots are also being developed for farms. As farmers face labor shortages and herbicide-resistant weeds, robotic weeders could help alleviate these challenges. Several companies are taking very different approaches in their designs. One model undercuts weed roots, another punches small weeds into the ground, and a third places a drop of herbicide on the weed’s growing point.
Most of these robots are still in the development stage. In testing out the Tertill, we see that it has great potential, but as you can see in the video, there are some weeds that it misses. We’ll suggest that the designers raise the crop sensors while lowering the weed trimmer so that it controls a wider range of weeds. Hopefully after these tweaks it will be ready for prime time!
Involved in this project are:
Bryan Brown, Integrated Weed Management Specialist, NYSIPM, Cornell University
Kristine Averill, Research Associate, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University
Antonio DiTommaso, Professor and Chair, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University
Scott Morris, Research Technician, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University
April 16, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on 360° Pollinator Garden Tour
Have you ever wondered what pollinator-supporting plants you can add to your property ?
Here’s an excellent and enjoyable way to find out. Funded by one of our Community IPM Grants, Cooperative Extension of Putnam County created the perfect example. While you can certainly stop in to visit, (Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County, 1 Geneva Road, Brewster NY.), here’s the next best thing. Or maybe it’s better because you can visit any time regardless of weather and distance!
Visit a real pollinator gardenwith this virtual 360 degree tour. In this curated experience, suitable for youth and adults, go on a pollinator insect hunt, or learn about the threats to native and non-native pollinators. Master Gardener Volunteers will help you make decisions about plant and landscape choices that support pollinator abundance and diversity.
This is just one of the resources we are pleased to provide to help you help pollinators.
The THINK IPM Blog tries to cover the breadth of our program but if you know anything about us, it’s that pest management covers much more than cockroaches and dandelions. Here’s the rest of our blogs:
The goal of this blog is to inform New Yorkers who are trying to control pests – on farms, in backyards, in businesses, or in homes – about the role that biological control plays (or could play) in successful integrated pest management. Additional information and resources can be found here.
The information is posted by Amara Dunn, Biocontrol Specialist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. New content will be posted approximately once a month. Click the “Subscribe” button on the right to make sure you don’t miss anything! Content may include information on the effective use of biocontrol, responses to questions from stakeholders, and updates on new or ongoing biocontrol projects of interest to New Yorkers.
If you have questions about biocontrol, you can contact Amara by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or you can call her office (315-787-2206).
This is a seasonal scouting report providing information on presence, identification, and management guidelines for significant field crop pests in New York. This report provides timely information to help users learn about, and better anticipate, current and emerging problems and improve their integrated pest management efforts.
The IPM Ornamentals program works with university researchers, extension educators, crop consultants and growers to identify pest management issues and find answers. We deliver the IPM solutions to growers through hands-on workshops, demonstrations, and publications.
The purpose of this site is to provide weekly reports from the NY sweet corn pheromone trap network. The trap network is a collaboration between the NYS IPM Program, local Cornell Cooperative Extension programs, farmers, and crop consultants. We also provide scouting and threshold information for fresh market sweet corn and links to resources on the major sweet corn insect and disease pests. The information on these pages is maintained by Marion Zuefle, Vegetable IPM Extension Area Educator with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, with help from Craig Cramer, Communications Specialist with the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University.
To contact Marion: email@example.com
Marion Zuefle, Vegetable IPM Extension Area Educator
IPM House, 607 W. North St., Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY 14456, (315) 787-2379, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You’re NEWA is managed by Dan Olmstead, NEWA Coordinator, NYS IPM Program.
The Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) delivers weather data from weather stations primarily located on farms through the Internet at newa.cornell.edu and automatically calculates and displays weather data summaries, crop production tools, and integrated pest management (IPM) forecasts. NEWA tools promote precision IPM and crop production practices.
Dan Olmstead, NEWA Coordinator, housed at IPM House, Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY 14456, 315-787-2207, Email: email@example.com
March 28, 2019
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Happy National Weed Appreciation Day!
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ahhh, the weed. Despised by many, almost to the point of violence. Once, while waiting for my older child to get out of preschool, I sat in the lawn and blew dandelion heads to the delight of my infant. I’ve never forgotten the sudden manifestation of a red-faced man screaming at me about terrorizing the neighborhood. (I like to think my son was unaffected.)
The first step in IPM is determining if you have a problem. All those years ago, a large, angry man was a problem, but I contend to this day that the dandelions were not. An unknown author penned that weeds are people’s idea, not nature’s. And many through the years have found inspiration from weeds. While researching this post, I had the option of strictly sticking to quotes about weeds (don’t worry, I didn’t), but I will add a few. There are quotes about their survivability:
You can’t help but admire a plant that has adapted to lawn mowers.
A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. – Doug Larson
A fresh and vigorous weed, always renewed and renewing, it will cut its wondrous way through rubbish and rubble. – William Jay Smith
Quotes about weeding:
Plant and your spouse plants with you; weed and you weed alone. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
And many waxed poetic about their hidden value:
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
When life is not coming up roses, Look to the weeds and find the beauty hidden within them. – F. Young
But beyond their value as a philosophical aid, can weeds be beneficial?
In fact, what weeds you find can tell you something about the soil. Is it wet or dry? Lean or fertile? Compacted? Acidic, alkaline, or neutral? Check out the short overview from the University of Vermont, What Weeds Can Tell You. Then act accordingly.
Often, weeds we find troublesome are plants we once valued. Dandelions, garlic mustard, plantain, and burdock are examples of plants brought over and cultivated by settlers to North America for food and medicine. And there are efforts to regain that value. One doesn’t need to spend too much time on the internet to find many resources on edible weeds. Take a look at this short video, Edible Weeds | From the Ground Up, developed by the University of Wyoming Extension (which includes some precautions you should take if you want to try eating your problems away). The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education recently funded a project looking at bringing edible weeds from the farm to the market.
These trichogramma wasp parasitized European corn borer eggs aren’t going to hatch.
There is research looking at the ecosystem services provided by weeds in agricultural settings. In their project, Integrating Insect, Resistance, and Floral Resource Management in Weed Control Decision-Making, Cornell researchers make the argument that while weeds can compete with crops, they can also benefit the entire system. They use milkweed along a field of corn as a case study. There are aphids that feed on the milkweed and produce honeydew, which benefits beneficial insects such as wasps that lay their eggs in the eggs of insect pests such as European corn borer. And that’s before they discuss the benefit to monarch butterflies.
Early flowering weeds, such as this purple deadnettle, provide an early spring food source for pollinators.
And speaking of butterflies… and bees… and other pollinators, in the write-up of a study looking at the capacity of untreated home lawns to provide pollination opportunities, they reclassified weeds as “spontaneous lawn flowers”. So much friendlier! By the way, they found 63 plant species in those lawns. In a parallel study looking at mowing and pollinators, they found that lazy lawn mowing led to more spontaneous lawn flowers leading to more pollinators. So now I have also given you an excuse to mow less. You’re welcome.
Some of our beneficial insect habitat plots looked really beautiful this fall! Others are still works in progress.
Today’s post is from our Biocontrol Specialist, Amara Dunn
Have seed and plant catalogs started arriving in your mailbox, yet? This is the time of year I start thinking wistfully about the arrival of spring. If your spring daydreams include planting habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects, keep reading for the latest on NYS IPM’s beneficial insect habitat establishment project!
Back in October I described the purpose and design of this project. So what have we learned after the first year? First, here’s a reminder of the different treatments we were comparing. Each treatment involved either direct seeding or transplanting habitat plants, in the spring or the fall, utilizing a different method for weed control.
Replace dead plants
Till, transplant, mulch
Replace dead plants
Till, direct seed
Till, plant buckwheat
Mow 1x, till, plant buckwheat
Mow 1x, transplant
E – control
Till, lay plastic
Remove plastic, direct seed
Herbicide 2x, till 1x
Till 1x, direct seed
And here’s how much time and money we spent on each method during our first year. Each treatment was applied to a total area of 460 ft2 (0.01 A).
A – Spring transplant
B – Spring transplant and mulch
C – Spring seeding
D – Buckwheat & fall seeding
E – Control
F – Solarize & fall seeding
G – Herbicide/tillage & fall seeding
What did we get for the time and money we invested? Well, the only two treatments that looked anything like habitat for beneficial insects by October were the ones we transplanted in the spring (A and B). And of the two, treatment B looked a lot better because of the mulch we spread around the plants after transplanting to help suppress weeds. Even so, we still hand weeded this treatment (and treatment A) twice during the year. But we got much better weed control in treatment B.
Four and a half months after transplanting, the beneficial habitat plants in treatments A (left) and B (right) were mostly growing well. But there was a big difference in weed control, in spite of similar amounts of time spent weeding each treatment
Direct-seeding in the spring resulted in a few blackeyed Susans by October (and a few partridge peas slightly earlier in the year), but did not look very impressive and had a lot of weeds.
After direct-seeding in the spring and mowing four times during the summer and fall, there were a few blackeyed Susans blooming in treatment C plots.
Of the three methods we used to manage weeds during the season, alternating herbicide applications and tillage resulted in the cleanest-looking plot by October.
A few weeds were present a week after the last time the herbicide/tillage treatment (G) was rototilled. We broadcast, raked, and pressed beneficial habitat seed into these plots.
Solarizing the soil was low-maintenance once the plastic was laid in the spring. We did learn that solarization is not a good strategy if you’re trying to control purselane. It grew just fine under our clear plastic, while most other weeds didn’t. In some places, it probably reduced the efficacy of solarization because it pushed the plastic away from the soil and allowed other weeds to germinate and grow.
In some solarized plots, purslane grew happily under the plastic. Purslane was not a common weed anywhere else in the field during the season.
The two crops of buckwheat we grew in treatment D not only suppressed weeds, but also attracted lots of pollinators and natural enemies to its blossoms before we mowed the crop down to keep it from going to seed.
The buckwheat established quickly and crowded out many weeds. We mowed the first crop in July and re-planted. We had to mow the second crop about 3 weeks before we transplanted (not ideal).
In summary, if one of your 2019 resolutions is to plant habitat for beneficial insects, I have two pieces of advice:
Spend 2019 controlling weeds. Even where we transplanted, weed pressure was a challenge, and investing in weed control before you plant is worth it!
If you have sufficient funds and need or want to establish habitat quickly, transplants are the way to go. Mulch will help you with your battle against weeds.
In 2019, we’re planning to keep monitoring these plots. Check back to see how the fall-planted and direct-seeded treatments look in their second year. Most of these methods are expected to take several years to reach their full potential. We will also start counting the insects (and insect-like creatures, like spiders) we find in these plots. During 2018, we already started seeing some beneficial insects showing up in these plots, so I’m looking forward to counting them once spring finally gets here!
Here are just a few of the beneficial insects we spotted in these plots during 2018. Soldier beetles, many hover flies, and lacewing larvae are all natural enemies of pests. We also saw lots of lady beetles and several other types of bees.
Thanks to Betsy Lamb and Brian Eshenaur who are working on this project with me, and to Bryan Brown for doing a weed assessment for us. You can read more about this project and see more pictures from 2018 at Biocontrol Bytes. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss future updates!
While visiting our blog, you have also been checking out older posts. Our second most popular post viewed in 2018 was a 2014 post, Identifying Your Pest – with Poop?. There are a lot of budding scatologists out there.
Other IPM Blogs – Besides ThinkIPM, we have more dedicated blogs, and you don’t need to be a specialist to subscribe to them. Here are some of the more popular posts:
Our new Spotted Lanternfly video, Have YOU Spotted Lanternfly Egg Masses was just posted, but it has already reached the number two spot. This invasive insect is getting a lot of attention and we need your help to keep track of it in New York.
Educator bee-guiles audiences with enthusiasm and results, earns Excellence in IPM award
A 13 year veteran of Putnam County, Lerner’s work as an invasive species educator, native plant and pollinator advocate, and turfgrass researcher has demonstrated her commitment, enthusiasm and mastery of IPM tools and tactics. Promoting IPM through education, demonstrations, and inclusive programs, Lerner has empowered her community with effective, science-based techniques.
“Jennifer Lerner’s willingness and enthusiasm for extending information to her region is legendary,” says Elizabeth Lamb, IPM Ornamentals coordinator. “She’s a gem.”
As a coordinator and collaborator for the Hudson Valley portion of the multi-year, multi-state project on keeping weeds out of sports fields on a budget, Lerner and her Turfgrass Team volunteers used “repetitive seeding” on high-use sports areas. The result? Safe playing surfaces that filled back in game after game. Why does it matter? Because we’d rather use seed than herbicides—and weeds make for slick footing and, too often, expensive falls.
Lerner also made Putnam County a leader in lily leaf beetle research. Notorious for decimating lilies, this pest is a pain for nurseries and householders alike. Enter an IPM management option: the release of a parasitoid wasp that feeds on the beetle larvae. Lerner secured a plot of land for the project, trained volunteers on the life cycle and proper handling of the wasps, and organized their successful release. Lerner’s most crucial contribution? Her outreach and clear communication skills, says project manager Brian Eshenaur.
A stalwart champion of bees and the native plants they depend on, Lerner so inspired the students from her advanced pollinators classes that they took what they learned and passed it on to over 530 community members at farmer’s markets and county fairs. And she created a special section—“Beauty and the Bees”—at the Master Gardeners’ annual plant sale. This section, now three years old, dwarfs the inventory of non-natives plants offered for sale.
There’s more, of course. Lerner also managed a demonstration pollinator garden located beside the Putnam County Department of Motor Vehicles, which attracts hundreds of patrons day in and out.
“Jen has been an important influence in promoting native plants,” says Master Gardener Janis Butler. “Whether it’s through engaging lectures, newsletter articles or in-person demonstrations, she illustrates the importance of planting natives wherever possible.”
Lerner received her award on November 14 at Cornell Cooperative Extension’s yearly in-service training in Ithaca, NY.
Press Release written by NYS IPM Science Writer Mary Woodsen
Today’s post is from Matt Frye. FYI: (He didn’t just show up on our door talking ticks or rats! And we’re glad he escaped the vines to join our program.)
Kudzu is an invasive vine that was introduced from Japan to the United States in 1876. In its heyday, kudzu was planted extensively throughout the southeastern US, where it was touted for its ability to prevent soil erosion on embankments, restore soil nitrogen (it’s a legume), and provide high quality forage for livestock. Unfortunately, like many invasive organisms introduced outside of their native range, kudzu became a pest species due to its rapid growth rate and the ability to shade out existing vegetation.
Kudzu was planted extensively on slopes for erosion control.
Based on the detrimental effects of this plant and the cost of management, kudzu is listed as a noxious weed in several states. It has also been the subject of extensive research by the US Forest Service, including my graduate research at the University of Delaware, which examined the potential for biological control of kudzu using insect natural enemies.
Kudzu vines grow up trees, over bushes, and create a dense cover of foliage that kills other plants.
In 2014 I published a slide set describing my work and experience with kudzu: why it’s a pest, some of its ecological impacts, common misconceptions, how it was grown, and how it can be killed. Since publishing this document, I have received dozens of requests for more information about the plant. What do most people want to know? How to grow it! This has been for art installations, research on allelopathy, a test to determine if kudzu can grow in zero gravity (yes, kudzu literally will be sent to space), genetic studies and for use as wildlife forage.
The last request for information to grow kudzu in New York was most alarming, and led to communication with colleagues at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. As it turns out – there is a regulation (6 NYCRR Part 575) that prohibits the possession, transport, importation, sale, purchase, and introduction of kudzu and other prohibited and regulated invasive species in New York (thank goodness!). And while there is a loophole for permits to be issued, these are strictly for “research, education or other approved activities.”
Can I help you to manage the plant, and offer suggestions for what to do in spaces where kudzu has been cleared? You bet! Can I help you to grow the plant for research purposes? Sure. But if your interest in growing kudzu is for non-academic purposes –I can’t help you. Sorry (not sorry).
Matt Frye is our Community IPM Extension Area Educator, housed at 3 West Main Street, Suite 112, Elmsford, NY 10523
Matt provides education and conducts research on pests that occur in and around buildings where people live, work, learn and play. The focus of Matt’s program is to help people prevent issues with pests such as rodents, bed bugs, ticks, cockroaches, and indoor flies; or to provide management recommendations for existing problems.
October 9, 2018
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Pollinator Habitat
Today, Biocontrol Specialist Amara Dunn addresses a common question.
So you want to grow habitat for pollinators…what’s the best method?
The short answer is that there probably isn’t a single best method. But there may be a best method for you. I know it’s not a very satisfying answer, but let me explain.
Remember that an area that provides food and shelter for pollinators (and, incidentally, natural enemies of pests, too!) contains a mix of plant species that bloom throughout the growing season and variation in plant shapes, sizes, and types. Leaving debris from last year’s growth is also helpful. While there are many good reasons to use native plants, non-native plants are ok too, as long as they aren’t invasive. There are plenty of resources out there for choosing plant species for pollinators, like this list of regionally-appropriate plants, and this database that is searchable by zip code. Other databases are searchable by specific plant characteristics.
Once you’ve selected the species you want to use in your pollinator habitat area, you have two main tasks: managing weeds, and establishing the plants. And here’s where the options can start to feel daunting. How will you manage weeds – hand pulling, herbicides, tillage, a cover crop, mulch? This is a critical step in creating habitat for pollinators, and one that is too-often overlooked. Experts recommend that you plan to spend at least one full growing season focused only on this task.
The weed management strategy you choose may also depend on how you would like to establish the plants you have chosen. The two main options are planting seeds directly into the ground, or transplanting small seedlings (or “plugs”). But should you do this in the spring or the fall? In the Northeast United States, experts recommend sowing seeds in the fall. Fall is also a good time to transplant perennials. And it has the advantage of allowing you to spend the entire growing season controlling weeds. But depending on your project timeline, it may not feel like the best option for you.
To help you make informed decisions about the best way to establish habitat for pollinators, I am working with Dr. Betsy Lamb and Brian Eshenaur to measure the costs, labor, and effectiveness of different methods for establishing pollinator habitat. The work is being done in demonstration plots located at Cornell AgriTech at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY. We are comparing six different methods, summarized below.
As you can see, we’ve included a mixture of weed management techniques (cover crop, mulch, mowing, herbicide and tillage, soil solarization) and different plant establishment techniques (seeds vs. plants, spring vs. fall timing). And we’re keeping track of the time and money spent on each method.
You can read more about the details of the methods we’re using and see pictures of our spring planting and seeding on my blog, Biocontrol Bytes. Over the next month or so, we will do our fall seeding. Stay tuned as we finish up the season and calculate inputs of time and money and analyze data collected by NYS IPM’s Bryan Brown on weed management success.
Amara Dunn is the Biocontrol Specialist for the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, 630 W. North Street, Geneva, NY 14456. Follow her blog, BIOCONTROL BYTE