Pennsylvania IPM Report, 2021

NEERA meeting: April 23, 2021

Ed Rajotte, IPM Coordinator and Professor of Entomology (

PAIPM is a diverse program that spans agricultural and urban systems. Listed below are some of the programs supported by EIPM in Pennsylvania. All programs also leverage other outside funding from federal, state and non-governmental organization sources. Project leaders are listed.

In addition, there are IPM programs in all Pennsylvania agricultural commodities including horticultural crops, animal production and the green industry.

Integrated Pest & Pollinator Management for Eastern Apple Orchards—David Biddinger, Research Professor of Entomology

Field evaluation of registered and experimental insecticides/acaricides are evaluated at the Penn State Fruit Research & Extension Center in Biglerville for pest control and non-target effects on biological control and pollinators. This applied research is then translated into grower recommendations for the mid-Atlantic region through the Penn State Tree Fruit Production Guide which was chosen as the national award winner by the American Society for Horticultural Science (446 p. Grower extension presentations are made several times a year to update growers on the best pest management practices that will conserve biological control of secondary pests such as mites, aphids, and scale insects and to conserve the 50+ species of wild bees that have replaced honey bees as the main pollinators of apple. Yearly workshops are given often in conjunction with the Xerces Society to educate growers and the general public about bee diversity, conservation through additional floral resource plantings or through pesticide selection and timing in IPPM programs.

Additionally, an 85 page extension publication was developed for growers and the public: Managing Northeast Apple Orchards for Pollinators and Other Beneficial Insects: Integrated Pest Management, Habitat Enhancement and Managed Bees. Penn State University and Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation Joint Publication, 85 p.

Spotted Lanternfly Control and Insecticide Impacts on Non-target Arthropods, Including Bees.

Approximately 80 different insecticides have been evaluated for efficacy and residual activity of this invasive pest at the Penn State Berks Campus in Reading. From this applied research has come control recommendations ( resources) for the grape, tree fruit, Christmas trees, ornamentals, and homeowners at:,, These trials have also been the basis for over a dozen 2(e) label amendments by companies to include spotted lanternfly control on various insecticide labels, and the bases for several 24C Special Local Need label changes for forestry and ornamental control. A large-scale evaluation of the organic bio-insecticide Beauveria bassiana and the neonicotinoid insecticide, dinotefuran, was conducted with ground and helicopter applications at the Blue Marsh federal park. Both efficacy and residual activity on SLF in the field and impacts on non-target ground and aerial arthropods (i.e., bees, ground beetles, parasitic wasps, etc.) were evaluated to inform both the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the USDA-APHIS for future large-scale gypsy moth type control programs being contemplated, and for hard targets such as ports, airports and rail junctions where there is not tolerance because of export issues or high risk areas of spread exist. Evaluations of SLF eggs using a digital microscope to detect native parasitoids adapting to a new host as they have done in the past with other invasive pests such as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, show no such host shift in the case of SLF. In the course of collecting tens of thousands of SLF nymphs and adults, none have been found to have been parasitized by native parasitoids, although some generalist predators are utilizing them as food.

Serving the Hispanic Community in Agriculture—Maria Gorgo-Gouravitch, Food Safety, IPM and Water Quality Extension Educator

Advancing Penn State Extension’s Latinx Outreach Efforts using Innovative Educational Formats

Agricultura en EspaƱol

The Penn State Extension Latinx Agricultural Network continues to develop innovative educational formats in Spanish for providing timely resources to life sustaining ag businesses. Team members coordinate a new Penn State Extension Agricultura en Español Facebook page with the mission of providing science-based information on agricultural production, food safety, and workplace safety and a new hotline in Spanish for reporting timely crop recommendations. Total Facebook reach, April through August, was over 130,000. The post with the greatest reach (2,477 on June 26) was Penn State Extension – Your Source for Agriculture Information / Penn State Extension – Su Fuente de Información sobre la Agricultura. This article outlined how to access Penn State Extension’s many resources online with links to important agricultural topics.

Protecting Agricultural Employee Health during COVID-19

Protecting Agricultural Workers from COVID-19

In cooperation with agricultural employee health providers, Penn State Law, and farm human resource managers, the tree fruit and community vitality teams conducted five live webinars on best practices to protect agricultural employee health, employer compliance with agricultural employee legal requirements, and modifications to seasonal employee housing during COVID-19. Secretary Russell Redding led the final forum on July 30th, and recorded webinars and handouts are on-line.

Our team has new posters and pamphlets in English and Spanish to communicate best practices and health services for agricultural employee protection from COVID-19. The new resources address Key Point #6 of the CDC and U.S. Department of Labor interim guidance for agricultural workers and employers: “Basic information and training about infection prevention should be provided to all farmworkers in languages they can understand.” The educational materials are downloadable from the Penn State Extension website, and print copies are being distributed by agricultural employee health providers, produce auctions, and extension educators.

Pennsylvania Farm Employer’s Listserv

One of the outgrowths of the Protecting Agricultural Employee Health webinar series is a new discussion group for human resources personnel called the Pennsylvania Farm Employer’s Listserv (PFEL). Proposed by Penn State Center for Agricultural and Shale Law Staff Attorney Brook Duer and organized in collaboration with the tree fruit team, this email-based networking and resource-sharing group is specifically tailored to agricultural labor issues for those with human resources responsibility at agricultural operations. In this forum, farm employers can exchange information and resources to better prepare them to do their jobs confidently and efficiently, keep up on the latest news and developments, and learn how to best comply with legal requirements from state and federal laws and agencies. The list is open to the public but requires registration. To request to join the list, send an email to Please put the word “subscribe” in the Subject: header and in the message body. Contact for additional information.

Support for Plain Sect Grower Crop Diversification Transitions

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

During the PDP process, educators identified a need for a tree fruit IPM field guide for plain sect growers who are diversifying their operations by planting tree fruit. In cooperation with the pesticide education program, the team produced a full-color field guide on identification and sustainable management of tree fruit diseases, pests, and physiological disorders. Extension educators are distributing the guide to produce auctions and during site visits.

IPM in Pennsylvania Schools and Childcares and IPM in human communities – Michelle Niedermeier and Dion Lerman – PA IPM Staff

Schools and Childcares

1. The 3rd edition of our IPM for Pennsylvania Schools and Childcares: A How-to Manual was released in February 2020, after more than a year under revision. It is available as a hard copy and a free PDF download. This edition was updated to include current laws and regulations, new chapters (e.g., the role of pests as asthma triggers, bed bugs, and beneficial insects and pollinators) and color photographs throughout. Updates were made possible with additional from funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Pennsylvania Department of Public Health, the American Lung Association, and the Pennsylvania Asthma Partnership.

2. PA IPM has long partnered with Head Start and Early Head Start programs and sits on several health service advisory councils (HSAC) for programs in southeast Pennsylvania. We attend quarterly meetings and serve as area experts on indoor environmental health and pest and pesticide issues, and provide training for their staff and resources for the families in their programs. Additionally, we are active members of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s (PDPH) Interagency Childcare Consortium (IC3). Meetings are held quarterly (although paused because PDPH staff have been temporarily reassigned to COVID detail) and are designed to pool and disseminate knowledge and resources for home- and center-based childcare facilities directors and staff.

3. Pennsylvania’s K–12 Academic Standards are unique in that we have separate Environment & Ecology (E&E) standards as part of the general academic state standards for public schools. The E&E academic standards were first approved in 2002. There have been several reviews/revisions over the years, but none of the revised standards were approved, thus the 2002 standards are the current standards. Beginning in early 2020 we learned that there was a coalition forming to eliminate these separate standards, in favor of national STEM standards that are far more basic and general in approach, and thus effectively removing IPM and Agriculture from the Pennsylvania academic K–12 standards.

Current proposed draft standards:

PA IPM has participated in numerous meetings and conference calls, and contributed via focus groups and other events to advocate for the E&E standards. The process continues to move forward but is currently stalled in the State Attorney General’s office.

Somewhat related, PA IPM is among the founding members of the Pennsylvania Green & Healthy Schools Partnership (PAGHSP), which works closely with the National Wildlife Foundation to advance the Eco-Schools USA program in Pennsylvania. Monthly executive board meetings look to reduce the barriers of implementing environmental education and to increase environmentally literacy rates amongst the Pennsylvania student population to be equipped with critical thinking, problem solving, as well as social and basic life skills to meet present and future environmental issues.

4. School Reopening/COVID mitigation COVID = Pest + Disinfectants = Pesticides IPM for Schools

I am on a PA Healthy Environment and Reopening Schools Workgroup, pulled together by PDE (Tamara Peffer—content advisor for the K–12 State Academic Standards for Environment & Ecology.) We have been meeting weekly, since the beginning of May 2020 to work specifically on school health and reopening guidance, synthesis, and outreach.

It is a diverse, but small (less than 20) group of people representing state agencies and environmental/public health groups. The nature of the discussions lend themselves toward the importance of the state school IPM mandate and how as it relates to school reopening issues (pests, applications of pesticides including disinfectants, etc.). There is not a representative from PDA attending, so I represent them as well.

There have been many twists and turns in how and on what we’ve been working, and the various projects and outreach to schools, but currently the Pennsylvania Department of Health epidemiologists, in partnership with the Drexel School of Public Health, are putting together a PPT presentation that will be available as a live session and recorded for future viewing (hopefully with the ability to edit as the base of knowledge continues to grow and guidance will need to be changed accordingly. Here is the only draft of the PPT that I saw:

I submitted several pages of edits to this draft, with specific changes to the 1 slide about IPM. I also provided verbal feedback on a work group call relating to the state school IPM mandate and specifically about disinfectants being pesticides that are regulated by the US EPA under FIFRA (new news for far too many state agency people, and others!)

There is so much to consider with school reopenings. As usual, the knee jerk reaction is that school facilities folks are listening to their vendors and buying all sorts of equipment and products and gadgets and then coating everything with a disinfectant … the importance of having/using an IPM plan are glaringly obvious! As such, we have also started a NE School reopening work group with experts and practitioners from Maine to Pennsylvania. We meet weekly to share ideas and help guide each other as schools continue to reopen.

Shortlist of Schools and Childcares Partners: Head Start/Early Head Start, Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development—K–16 Work Group, School District of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, NE IPM Center—School IPM Working Group, National School IPM Network, Women for a Healthy Environment, Pennsylvania Green & Health

Schools Partnership, National Wildlife Federation, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Health Federation of Philadelphia, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


1. Until COVID closures, PA IPM was an active member of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), Office of Preparedness Climate Change & Health Advisory Group, and the asthma subcommittee. This group met bi-monthly for several years, but meetings have been paused since February 2020 as PDPH staff were temporarily reassigned to COVID detail.

2. PA IPM is also an active member of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s (DVRPC) Healthy Communities and Public Participation Task Forces. We regularly attend meetings and provide input related to the built environment and planning’s impact on pest populations. Meetings have continued virtually throughout COVID shutdowns.

3. PA IPM is the de facto Penn State Extension pest management education provider for Philadelphia and surrounding southeast counties, especially for urban pests such as bed bugs, rats, mice, mosquitoes, cockroaches, etc. We provide custom-tailored outreach, education, and training on Integrated Pest Management and Healthy Homes to Pennsylvania residents, and to the staff of the agencies that serve them. We regularly respond to resident ID requests, questions, and concerns around pests and provide evidence based IPM solutions via email and phone calls (and in person, pre-COVID).

We are active members of the bi-monthly PSU Vector-borne disease team and the bi-weekly Spotted Lanternfly research update calls. Additionally, we regularly attend the Department of Entomology’s Friday seminar (now that it is on Zoom), and regional and national entomology, IPM, and other related research updates and training programs to stay current with best management practices.

Additionally, PA IPM works to connect University researchers with partners. Over this last year we have found SLF collection sites and urban farms for PSU grad students and post docs to do field work.

4. One of our longest community partnerships in Philadelphia is with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia—Community Asthma Prevention Program (CHOP-CAPP). We have partnered with Dr. Tyra Bryant-Stephens for almost two decades in programs, projects, and trainings for her community health outreach workers, the families they serve, and the greater Philadelphia asthma community around IPM and related environmental health issues in the built environment. We meet bi-monthly and on a need-to basis with her and her team to address environmental triggers of asthma.

Shortlist of Community Partners: Philadelphia City Council, Philadelphia Department of Licenses & Inspections, Philadelphia Department of Public Health—Vector Control and Office of Preparedness for Climate Change, Community Legal Services, Liberty Resources, Liberty Community Connections, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Community Asthma Prevention Program (CHOP-CAPP), Public Health Management Corporation, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development—Sustainability Work Group.

5. We responded to a change on state Medicare/Medicaid benefits that included reimbursement for “pest eradication” services for disabled adults. While groundbreaking in providing, for the first time, essential pest control for an underserved and vulnerable population, there was concern about how the benefit would be delivered and administered since there was no precedent or in- house expertise on pest control in the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services. Beginning in January 2019, meetings were held with the three managed care organizations (MCO’s) administering the benefit in southeast Pennsylvania. They recognized their lack of expertise, and the institutional barriers to effective administration. To be reimbursable, services must be provided by a certified Medicare/Medicaid provider; no pest control companies were certified. Working with Liberty Resources, the Philadelphia area Federally certified Center for Independent Living, who provide comprehensive services for the regions 45,000 disabled adults, a solution emerged. Liberty created an entity, housed in their home modification program, to act as a pest control company that would subcontract with local integrated pest management (IPM) providers and interface with the MCO’s and state agencies. This process went through several design iterations, but was finally operational in February 2020, with the PA IPM Program consulting as the Technical Director. Only two homes had been serviced before the COVID-19 shutdown forced the program to pause, before gradually resuming over the summer. As of 3/21/2021, the program has treated 108 homes, with virtually all reporting successful elimination of the pest in a single visit, and complete customer satisfaction. Bed bugs were the most common pest treated, accounting for over 38% (n=42) of treatments; only about 5 homes required retreatments. Cockroaches (n=24, or 23%) were the next most common pest treated, with rodents (n=21; 19%) rounding out the top complaints. Only 9% (n=10) of treatments involved more than one pest, and squirrels and fleas also required treatment.

Another major project that is moving forward after pandemic-induced delays, is the establishment of an Urban IPM Technician Training program that will train underserved Philadelphia residents to become licensed pesticide applicators and apply IPM techniques to residences and local businesses. This job development project in being created in partnership with ECA, a primary provider of weatherization and home renovation services under city contracts; they already conduct building trades training. The first cohort is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2021.

Other public-facing activities of the Philadelphia PA IPM office were largely curtailed by the pandemic, although video-based training did continue, including two 2-day Essentials of Healthy Homes for Practitioners were held for the Philadelphia and Bethlehem Health Departments. Ongoing partnerships and task force work continued remotely, including with the West Philadelphia Promise Zone Housing Committee and the Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force.

IPM in Agronomic Crops – John Tooker, Professor of Entomology

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 use of insecticides aligns well with farming for soil life and diversity. One of our key efforts focused on soybean production, and we continued an ongoing effort of running a sentinel plot program in Pennsylvania soybean fields. Working with county-based extension educators, 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, by extension educators 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.

Beekeeping and Pollinator Protection—Margarita Lopez-Uribe, Assistant Professor of Entomology

1. Working toward best management practices for organic beekeeping: a side-by-side comparison of management systems (USDA-NIFA-OREI)

We are finishing the third year of this project that focuses on a side-by-side comparison of honey bees under three different management systems: conventional, organic and chemical-free. One of the great achievements of this project has been the ability to create bridges of communication between beekeepers who manage honey bees using conventional practices and beekeepers who choose to manage bees without the use of chemicals. The latter group has historically been marginalized from mainstream beekeeping meetings because of their ideology for bee management. We have successfully brought together these groups of beekeepers to have open discussions about beekeeping practices. Our research has revealed that the organic management system is the most profitable and sustainable for beekeepers in Pennsylvania with economic gains that are twice as high than the gains of beekeepers who manage bees using a conventional system.

2. Strengthening honey bee health through genome-assisted breeding (USDA Animal Health)

We are working with beekeepers from Pennsylvania to develop 10 areas across the state where we will genotype and phenotype genetic lines to identify those that perform will in Pennsylvania and are disease tolerant/resistant. The long term of this project is to help initiate a beekeeper-led regional breeding programs of more resilient honey bee with reduced overwintering losses.

3. Which bees are best: Testing the performance of commonly available honey bee stocks for Midwestern and Northeastern beekeepers (USDA-NIFA-CARE)

In collaboration with Purdue University, we generating field relevant data on the performance and profitability of multiple commercially available honey bee stocks in the Midwest and Northeast. We currently have 10 apiaries across Pennsylvania where we are running a side-by-side comparison of five genetic stocks community used among our beekeepers. Our long-term goal is to generate evidence-based data that will help beekeepers choose the best stocks that will increase sustainability and profitability of their beekeeping operations.

4. Maximizing pollination services for blueberry production in Pennsylvania (Northeast SARE)

While managed honey bees are regularly rented to achieve optimal pollination in commercial blueberry farms, there are two disadvantages with this approach to guarantee pollination: (1) honey bee rentals are costly, and (2) honey bees are less efficient pollinators of blueberries than wild bee species. In a survey we conducted to blueberry growers in 2018, 50% of the participants reported that they use honey bees for pollination services. Still 53% of growers reports concerns about pollination limitation in their farms. We are partnering with blueberry growers in Pennsylvania to generate information that will improve their production practices by maximizing pollination services. Specifically, we plan to (1) identify what bees are providing the greatest pollination, and (2) quantifying pollination limitation. Results from this study will provide critical information to increase blueberry yields in our partner’s farms and help them define which bee species should be emphasized for conservation efforts.

Extension Publications:

López-Uribe MM, Underwood RM. (2020). How to Keep Bees During COVID-19. Pennsylvania State Extension (Newsletter Article) Also available in Spanish.

López-Uribe MM, Biddinger D (2020). Orchard Pollination: Strategies for Maintaining Pollination Services in Tree Fruit.Pennsylvania State Extension (Newsletter Article)

Grozinger C., López-Uribe MM, Underwood RM. (2020). Viruses in Honey Bees. Penn State Extension. (Fact sheet).

IPM for vegetable crops – Beth Gugino, Professor of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Over this past year, the 1-800-PENN-IPM hotline was expanded to provide more offerings on timely topics related to vegetable, small fruit and tree fruit production as well as greenhouse IPM. Special-purpose lines addressing COVID-19 and PDA pesticide applicator license program were also added in addition, to a series of Spanish-language messages, translated for members of the Latinx community. The menu of vegetable options was expanded to include a general update as well as updates on onion/Allium, tomatoes/potatoes, sweet corn and vine crops. In 2020, the vegetable and small fruit messages were accessed over 1700 times throughout the season.

Although COVID-19 limited expansion of Penn State Extension informational kiosks and lending libraries in 2020, a series of eight evergreen posters were on topics such as Preventing the spread of coronavirus, Dealing with high soluble salts levels in high tunnels to Sanitation practices for packing lines and Blueberry cane diseases were developed and disseminated. In addition, timely information generated from sweet corn pest, cucurbit downy mildew and late blight monitoring programs was posted weekly enabling growers to make timely pest management decisions. Efforts are underway to evaluate the impact of this program over the past several years.