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Entomology for Master Gardeners BCMG needs assessment survey results New Extension Resources Diagnosis of pest problem Dr. Ayanava Majumdar Extension Entomologist Alabama Cooperative Extension System Gulf Coast Research & Extension Center 8300 State Hwy 104, Fairhope, Alabama 36532

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This talk was delivered to Master Gardeners in 2009.


Page 1: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Entomology for Master Gardeners

BCMG needs assessment survey results

New Extension Resources

Diagnosis of pest problem

Dr. Ayanava MajumdarExtension Entomologist

Alabama Cooperative Extension SystemGulf Coast Research & Extension Center

8300 State Hwy 104, Fairhope, Alabama 36532Cell phone: 251-331-8416

Page 2: Tomato Insect Pests ID

New Extension Resources

Page 3: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Survey Results (13 Nov. 2009)

Total audience = 74, survey returns = 59, return rate = 79%

Years of experience in MG program:<1 yr = 4%1 yr = 25%4 yr = 11%8 yr = 7%12 yr = 5%13 yr = 5%

Internet at home: 73% broad-band, 7% dial-up, 20% none

Do you use ACES website beyond volunteer years? 83% yes

Page 4: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Survey Results (contd.)Most worrisome pest in your garden:Insect pest = 37% (aphids)Disease = 24% (tomato wilt)Weed = 46% (gripeweed)Vert. pests = 17% (armadillo)

Level of awareness about biological products:Never used BC products = 27%Use BC products = 25%Don’t know where to get them = 20%No response = 28%

Page 5: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Survey Results (contd.)What should be the main objective of IPM?Minimum impact on environment (52%)Reduction of chemical pesticide use (39%)Diversification of pest control products on farm (5%)

Level of awareness about IPM practices:Never heard of IPM = 8%Have heard of IPM but not clear of concepts = 42%Use IPM tactics = 47%No response = 3%

Page 6: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Survey Results (contd.)Rating of IPM tactics:#1 Selection of tolerant varieties#2 Use of biological control methods like beneficial

insects (if available)#3 Crop rotation to reduce pests#4 Pesticide rotation for slowing resistance devel.#5 Use of cultural practices#6 Use of economic thresholds????#7 Use of insect forecast models????

Biggest hurdles in adopting IPM practices:Lack of awareness of information (60%)Lack of confidence (15%)Low availability of reliable data (12%)

Page 7: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Survey Results (contd.)Preferred source of learning more about IPM issues:Extension print publications = 64%Workshops/conferences = 40%WWW = 25%Other sources (newspaper/presentations) = 3%

Urgent needs for MGs:Need for insect ID cards

Hands-on insect ID laboratoryMore information about local pest problems

….improvements are in the making!

Page 8: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Diagnosis of pest problem

Page 9: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Types of Plant Problems

• Means “non-living “causes to the problem

• Uncontrollable abiotic: weather events, soil structure

• Controllable abiotic: pesticide injury (hot product mixtures), improper planting, fertilizer overdose, overwatering

Abiotic stressors Biotic stressors

• Caused by living organisms or “pests”

• Pest: an organism that cause injury and economic loss to humans or human property

• Plant injury: effect of pest on plants

• Damage: effect of pest in economic terms

• “All damage is injury but all injury is not damage!”

Page 10: Tomato Insect Pests ID

1. Define the problem:– Record the normal & abnormal

characters– Keep written notes & take pictures

(blogging?)– Examine entire plant in its

ecosystem– Look around: is something

affecting one plant or a group of plants?

Steps to diagnosis of plant injury

Page 11: Tomato Insect Pests ID

2. Look for patterns:– Nature is random!– If patterns exist on plant or a group

of plants…abiotic problem? (e.g., herbicide injury, storm injury to plants, etc.)

– Biotic sources affect plants randomly (e.g., insect, diseases)

– Biotic problems change location between years

Steps to diagnosis of plant injury

Page 12: Tomato Insect Pests ID

3. Scouting procedure:– If you have found the problem,

mark the problem area with sticks, garden stakes, tall flags, etc.

– Familiarize yourself with sampling techniques and sample preparation

– Take a closer look at plants, uproot plants if feasible

– Ask the experts before spending money on control!

Steps to diagnosis of plant injury

Page 13: Tomato Insect Pests ID

4. Delineate time-development:– Biotic problems may spread slowly in an area and a

pattern may appear– Abiotic problems develop faster and patterns are

obvious– Keep an eye on the marked area and sample

frequently to be able to “encounter” the problem (random)

Steps to diagnosis of plant injury

Page 14: Tomato Insect Pests ID

5. Determine the cause of injury:– Think broadly >> narrow

down to few causesOR

– Use the process of elimination to arrive at a solution

– Use all resources you have to ID insects, many on the web

– Find the economic threshold: doing nothing is also OK

Steps to diagnosis of plant injury

Page 15: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Potato aphid: Long legs, antennae, and corniclesPink or green in colorVector of many virusesSluggish movement, persistent grip

Tomato aphid

Green peach aphid: Smaller that potato aphidHas over 800 plant hostsLime green in colorMove rapidly when disturbed, easier

to dislodge


Page 16: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Scouting for aphids


• Scout early in season, aphids have cornicles

• Search under leaves and stem

• Winged aphids may indicate migration

• Record the number of leaves with aphids present, then mark the area (distribution is highly clumped)

• ET = 50% leaves have aphid

• Watch for presence of ants that feed on honeydew

• Watch for ladybeetles and lacewings

Page 17: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Flea beetles

Strong thick hind-legs (arrow)Various colors (commonly black/striped)Jump when disturbedGenerally early season seedling pest

Page 18: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Scouting for flea beetles• Sample in mid-morning or afternoon

• Sample the seedling plants (6-10 inch height)

• Estimate the level of defoliation

• Estimate the number of adults with a sweep net and relate it to foliar injury

• ET = 5-10% foliar injury

Page 19: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Colorado potato beetle

Has many host plants, major pest of tomato

Has insecticide resistance (e.g., to Sevin in some areas)

Has high fecundity – so NE don’t work

Rotate chemicals, use alternative strategies

Page 20: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Scouting for CPB• Defoliation is less threatening on mature plants

• Beetle injury first on field margins

• Scout the short crop intensely (6 to 10 inch)

• Estimate the number of CPB on 10 plants

• ET = 5 beetles in short crop, 10% defoliation

Page 21: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Tomato fruitworm

Has many host plants, major pest of tomato

Has a brown head capsule + longitudinal stripes

Feeds with part of it’s body outside the fruit

Overwinters as pupa in the top soil

Page 22: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Scouting for tomato fruitworm• This is a major pest. Mark the location with flag & mark your calendars!

• Use pheromone traps for monitoring flight

• ET = scout intensely for eggs/larvae if 7 adults per trap

• Scout for larvae during fruit set.

• ET = one larva per plant or one fresh injury per plant

• Improve scouting technique with experience

Page 23: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Stink bugs

Has many host plants

Major pest of tomato and cotton

Piercing-sucking mouthparts

Early attack can destroy blooms and late attack destroy fruits

Page 24: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Scouting for stink bugs

• Can you smell them in field?

• Try sweep netting to sample adults mid-morning

• Scout intensively when fruit formation begins: 10 plants per location

• ET: 0.25 stink bugs average per 10 plants during the green fruit stage

• Much research on trap crops (alfalfa, clover, sorghum)

Page 25: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Leaf-footed bugs

• Related to stink bugs• Emerging problem in

vegetables and fruit production (Lousiana, Florida, California, Alabama)

• Interesting behavioral issues

• Trap crops may work!

Page 26: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Tomato hornworm

Caterpillar with Cotesia (parasite) cocoons

• Size is a problem in insect world!

• The caterpillars are rapid defoliators, fruit not harmed

• Adult = hummingbird moths OR Hawk moths

Sphinx /Hummingbird moth

Page 27: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Scouting for tomato hornworm

Leave these caterpillars alone!

• Minor problem in commercial production (foliar damage only)

• Visual location, scout & hand-pick when possible

• Monitor the level of Cotesia infested larvae

• There could be 3–4 generations per year, so late season buildup should be monitored

Page 28: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Cabbage looper vs. Imported cabbageworm

Cabbage looper (CL) Imported cabbageworm (ICW)

Note: no. of abdominal prolegs, larval shape, moth vs. butterfly

Page 29: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Damage by CL vs. ICWCabbage looper Imported cabbageworm

• Extremely mobile insect, move rapidly from plant to plant• Leaf margin >> area between viens >> leaf skeletonization

• Feed on terminal buds and soft leaves (random)• Cabbage head is riddled with holes• Caterpillar stays camouflaged against the midrib

Page 30: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Diamondback moth

• Major insect on many crops

• Notorious for insecticide resistance

• Larvae are delicate, make silken web

• Larvae balloon from plant to plant

• Larva make shapeless holes, feeding in bunches

• Cause head deformation

Page 31: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Scouting for caterpillar pestsCabbage looper Imported cabbageworm

• Look for larvae with 2-pairs of prolegs

• Look for frass at the base of head

• Use pheromone trap to monitor pop.

• ET = 10 % defoliation

• Look for white/yellow moths early in the season• Caterpillars camouflage with leaf midrib• ET = 10% defoliation

Diamondback moth

• Scout early in season• Observe any deformation• Ballooning caterpillars?• ET = 10% defoliation

Page 32: Tomato Insect Pests ID

• Polyphagous insect• Have many wild hosts –

lambsquarter & redroot pigweed

• Creamish or light-green caterpillar, 4 pairs of prolegs

• Black spot on thorax just above the leg (circled)

• Moth has clear hindwings• Early instars feed

voraciously• Are attracted to weak plants

Beet armyworm

Damage to pepper plant

Page 33: Tomato Insect Pests ID

• Wide variety of crops damaged, major on soft-stemmed crops

• Moth lays eggs on low vegetation (mustard greens)

• Damage more plants that they eat (cause early & late season problem)

• Dry weather is favorable

• Types: solitary surface, climbing, army cutworms

• Larva curls into a C


Page 34: Tomato Insect Pests ID

• Early detection & treatment is important to prevent spread

• Scout for egg masses and caterpillars on 10 to 20 plants at different locations

• Use a sweep net to sample moths around field edges

• Use pheromone trap for monitoring moth activity

• ET = 2-3% plants with egg masses, 1 larvae per 20 plants, 10% or under defoliated plants

Scouting for armyworm & cutworm



Page 35: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Back to basics…• Scientific sampling protocols are not expensive• Sampling accuracy improves with experience,

correct equipment, and sample size• Draw a field layout >> start from border and

finish in the middle• Try to connect population level (e.g., using

sweep net, pheromone traps) with true crop injury…gain experience!

• Make treatment decisions at the right time using safest product available to you. Rotate chemicals.

Page 36: Tomato Insect Pests ID

Thank you for your patience!