New programs in Integrated Pest Management

August 8, 2014 in Feature, Lawn and Garden

Parasitized tomato hornworm

Parasitized tomato hornworm

A recent publication found that few homeowners know or understand the term IPM, and another publication found homeowners were unaware of what cooperative extension is or does. This year we started a couple new education programs for homeowners, school teachers, and green industry professionals.

Integrated pest management (IPM) uses the current knowledge of pest biology and the interaction with the environment to manage pest populations and their damage by the most economical means possible with a variety of techniques that minimizes hazards to people or the environment. The most common methods available to manage insect populations include: mechanical or physical removal of pests, cultural, biological, and chemical control tactics. Cultural control practices involve knowledge of the plants and where they would grow the best. Biological control tactics rely on existing beneficial insects to feed on pests and chemical control uses pesticides. The new programs focus education efforts towards Future Farmers of America (FFA) teachers, green industry professionals and the general public.

Allison Wagner searching for insects on a squash plant

Allison Wagner, Extension Scholar, searching for insects on a squash plant

The new program designed to provide new information about IPM to Future Farmers of America teachers occurs during the summer and fall. This group of workshops discusses a variety of pests and the potential biological control agents available to manage them. The greenhouse workshop also provides network opportunities between FFA teachers and green industry professionals.

The “Morning with an Expert” is a new program that provides homeowners with opportunities to ask insect or disease questions to cooperative extension specialist and agents in each county. The next event is scheduled on 27 August 2014 at 5:30 pm at Brandywine Garden located at 12th and Brandywine in Wilmington, DE. This event also will demonstrate the use of companion plants in an urban garden. Beneficial insects will be discussed and on display at the evening workshop. A goal of this program is to increase homeowner tolerance of insects and awareness of cooperative extension in Delaware.

The urban gardening project combines the use of herbs or common flower garden plants such as chrysanthemums with garden vegetables. One goal of this project is to increase the number of naturally occurring insect predators and parasitoids in vegetable gardens to reduce the number of pest insects. Another goal is to increase homeowner awareness of alternative methods to manage insect populations other than using insecticides. This new project also increases the chance for the general public to interact with and ask questions to cooperative extension personnel.