Pennsylvania IPM Report, 2020

NEERA meeting: May 12, 2020

Ed Rajotte, Professor of Entomology and IPM Coordinator

PAIPM delivers both urban and agricultural IPM education. The programs listed below are at least partially funded by USDA NIFA IPM Extension funds.

PA Integrated Pest Management Program (Philadelphia and Beyond!)—Michelle Niedermeier and Dion Lerman (PAIPM/PSCIP)

PAIPM has been working in Philadelphia (and other municipalities since the early 2000’s). We fund resident staff there. Programming addresses needs of underserved populations in the city. Healthy Homes in association with HUD and American Lung Association. Programs include:

Field Crop IPM—John Tooker (entomology) and team

We continued our efforts to promote IPM in field crop production. Over the past year, we communicated with the agricultural community of Pennsylvania the value and limitations of insecticidal seed treatments, insect-resistant crop varieties, details of pest biology, and alternative means of controlling insect pests, including farming to increase diversity and improve biological control. We have also started promoting IPM in the context of broad interest in soil health. Farmers seem to recognize that there is value in farming for healthier soil, so restrained us of insecticides aligns well with farming for soil life and diversity. One of our key efforts focused on soybean production, establishing in 2017 a sentinel plot program in Pennsylvania soybean fields. The main goal of the project was to encourage growers to adopt Integrated Pest Management by providing growers with a statewide assessment of insects and diseases active in soybean fields. This effort benefited farmers by exposing them weekly to realistic, unbiased assessments of populations of insects and diseases in soybean fields. Ample research has shown that soybean farmers over rely on insecticides and fungicides because they do not have a firm understanding of the threats that insects and fungal pathogens pose to their fields. Our scouting efforts of “typical” soybean fields, usually grown without insecticides and fungicides, provided qualified assessments of pest populations that colonized fields around the state. After seeing our reports, we expected that growers would seek to learn what is active in their fields. If they experienced mild pest populations, then they would see first hand that that insecticides and fungicides are not needed in most soybean fields. This first-hand experience can lead them to embrace scouting, which is the key to implementing Integrated Pest Management and lowering production costs by allowing farmers to avoid using necessary inputs.

We also deployed Penn State's Black Cutworm Monitoring Network. This network comprised collaborations with about 25 Penn State Extension Educators and high school agriculture teachers who used pheromone traps to track arriving populations of black cutworm moths. When significant populations were detected, we issued warnings in five counties for local growers to scout their fields.

Tooker, J. F. Slugs as a motivating force for IPM in no-till crop production. Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, St. Louis, MO, 19 November 2019.

Pearson, E. A., and J. F. Tooker. Toxicity of neonicotinoids and pyrethroids to non-target soil invertebrates. Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, St. Louis, MO, November 2019.

Fennell, L, J. F. Tooker, and K. G. Wickings. Calendar-based pest management tactics in field crops have seasonal impacts on the abundance of epigeic predators and their activity. Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, St. Louis, MO, November 2019.

Golinski, J. E., E. Yip, and J. F. Tooker. Plant defense by eavesdropping on the communication of herbivores: Is it common or rare? Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, St. Louis, MO, November 2019.

Rowen, E. K., and J. F. Tooker. Getting more Zs: Can zinc fertilizer boost corn resistance to chewing herbivores? Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, St. Louis, MO, November 2019.

We also ran a soybean sentinel plot program that scouted about 20 typical soybean fields around Pennsylvania for insect pest and pathogen populations. We quantified populations and share them with growers and other agricultural professionals via an online newsletter that reaches about 10,000 subscribers. None of the fields we scouted in 2019 exceeded economic thresholds for insect or pathogens, indicating that insecticide and fungicide population would not be economical.

Mildew and Blight monitoring—Beth Gugino (plant pathology and environmental microbiology)

In an effort to support wide area pest monitoring, two sentinel plots were established for monitoring cucurbit downy mildew and confirmed reports from these sites as well as confirmed reports from commercial fields and home gardens were reported into the cucurbit downy mildew ipmPIPE. Likewise confirmed report of late blight on tomato and potato were reported to the monitoring platform and a sentinel plot was established and monitored at the Russell E. Larson Research Farm at Rock Springs. Area wide pest monitoring and forecasting information was disseminated via the 1-800-PENN-IPM hotline for Pennsylvania growers and other stakeholders that do not access electronic technologies. In addition, a Tyvek poster was developed to display easily changeable maps on disease and pest outbreaks which are now posted at 12 of the 14 produce auctions across the state.

Integrated Pest Management and mHealth Program Aimed to Reduce Pesticides Exposures for Vulnerable Hispanic Mushroom Farmers in Pennsylvania—Amy Snipes (health and human development), Kathy Sexsmith (rural sociology), Maria Gorgo (regional extension educator, late of PAIPM), Ed Rajotte (entomology)

This project aims to reduce pesticide risks at human and environmental levels by combining three effective worker safety practices—1) using personal protective equipment, 2) PPE and 3) integrated pest management, or IPM. Because of their individual effectiveness, the combined strategies may optimize the protection of farmworkers’ health through reductions in exposures to environmental pesticides. However, there is currently little evidence regarding this integrated approach.

Spotted Lanternfly Response—Julie Urban, Heather Leach, David Biddinger, Greg Krawczek, Ed Rajotte, Mitzy Porras (entomology)

SLF was found in PA in 2014 and has spread to more than 20 PA counties as well as NJ, MD, DE, and VA ( PAIPM collaborates with the overall state effort to slow the spread and inform growers and the public about detection and management. It primarily threatens grapes and ornamentals as well as some forest species. Extension provides management advice in English ( and Spanish (

Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management—Biddinger and Rajotte (entomology)

Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management (IPPM) is and expansion of the IPM approach that accommodates pollinator health. While IPM programs simultaneously address economic, environmental and social goals, the ability of IPM decision-making to evolve in response to new demands is one of the reasons that IPM is still viable after more than 50 years. We show in commercial apple production that by carefully selecting pesticides and adjusting application timing, pest populations can be reduced while preserving the pollinators to set the fruit. This approach has been incorporated in to our tree fruit recommendations (

Biddinger and Rajotte 2015. Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management—Adding a New Dimension to an Accepted Paradigm. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 06/2015; 10. DOI:10.1016/j.cois.2015.05.012