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Pheromone Trap Networks, Phenology Models, and Trap Crops for Invasive Species

Collaborative networks to provide advance warning of annually re-invasive migrants, and sustaining IPM programs when disrupted by invasive species with phenology models and trap crop management

Sweet corn occupies more acreage on Pennsylvania vegetable farms than any other crop, and 85 to 90% of the growers apply insecticides to prevent damage from migratory moths.  These pests do not typically overwinter in Pennsylvania, but migrate here annually.  The question is when treatment is necessary.  We developed a collaboration of Extension, growers, and information technologies for rapid acquisition and display of information about the activity of these pests, called PestWatch (www.pestwatch.psu.edu), which is in its 17th year of operation.  About 40 to 50 Pennsylvania farm sites participate through the fantastic efforts of 18 Extension Educators.  Growers use this information for pest management in sweet corn and peppers, reducing or eliminating sprays when activity is low, and protecting crops as their market needs require when densities increase.  Pestwatch has grown to >750 sites nationwide for a range of issues about migratory moth pests.  Molecular analyses from samples taken from this network, through collaboration of USDA ARS Scientists,  is testing hypothesis about how the Appalachian mountains are influencing migratory pathways from overwintering sites in Texas and Florida, and how future climates might affect those pathways.

In addition to these annually re-invasive species migratory species, new invasive species threaten IPM programs.  A current example is Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), which threatens fruit, vegetable and field crops.  Pepper IPM has advanced to the point of using egg parasitoids and biologically selective and safe insecticides, but this is threatened with the presence of BMSB. Here, we are in our 2nd year of tests to use sunflower as a trap crop to protect peppers.  We hope to concentrate the bug on sunflowers, and away from the crop, which would be developed into a management technique useful on both conventional and organic growers.  Samples from these hosts are subjected to physiological analyses to determine the vitellogenic (egg-laying) condition of the adult females, which is being coupled to phenology models – models that estimate the timing of and distribution of key biological events for this species.

About the Researcher:
Shelby Fleischer is a Professor of Entomology at Penn State. His research helps define the structure, dynamics, and management of insect populations and communities in agricultural systems.  His Extension program strives to advance IPM based on understanding biological and ecological processes, with priority on improving worker safety, in vegetable production systems.  He teaches a field class on Insect Natural History, a class on issues associated with transgenics in agriculture, and was a co-author documenting areawide corn borer suppression and the economic implications for both adopters and non-adopters of Bt-corn.  Current projects are focused on pest management in cucurbit production systems, management of Brown marmorated stink bug, climate change effects on insect migration, and conservation of bees for pollination of horticultural crops.

Contact Information:
Phone: 814-863-7788
E-mail: sjf4@psu.edu