Elizabeth Long

Assistant Professor
Entomology

8 articles by this author

Article List

I really thought I was staying ahead of the insects in my crucifer greens pretty well, but as you can see from my ravaged arugula plant (Figure 1), I was wrong! It’s that time of year again when holes may be appearing in your favorite crucifer crops, including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, arugula, Brussel sprouts…and the list goes on! Although there are several insect culprits that may be causing damage, caterpillars are key pests to be vigilant for. Whether you have fields or a small garden of delicious cruciferous greens, caterpillars are the primary pests to manage; if you don’t stay ahead of them, they can devastate your crop. In Indiana, the three most common caterpillars you’ll find eating your crucifers are the imported cabbageworm, cabbage looper, and the diamondback moth. All three caterpillars feed on the leaves and heads of developing crucifer plants, reducing plant growth and leaving behind[Read More…]


What is this insect on my tomato plant? Is it a friend or foe?  Answer: It is a friend! This is a super cool insect, known as a mantispid or ‘mantis fly.’ These insects are predatory and can be found around your garden, farm, or orchard feasting upon soft-bodied insect pests. Also, they are wasp mimics, as you can see from the photo!


Info about the culprit insect: Cutworms are the larval (caterpillar) stage of moths in the family Noctuidae, which typically fly at night. Although the adult moths are not damaging, the voracious larvae can be! The caterpillars typically hide during the day and emerge at night, curling around young, tender plants to feed. How many kinds of cutworms are there? There are several species of cutworms, but you are most likely to encounter one of four species of cutworm in Indiana: either the dingy, variegated, or clay backed cutworms, which overwinter as partially grown larvae, or the black cutworm, which does not overwinter in the Midwest, but migrates back each year. The black and clay backed cutworms are leaf feeders and plant (stem) cutters, while the dingy and variegated cutworms are mainly leaf feeders that rarely cut plants at or below the ground level. What crops do cutworms attack? Cutworms are[Read More…]



Fig. 2 Maggot in young onion transplant with a penny referenced for size. Photo by John Obermeyer.

Each and every spring we get reports of poor seed emergence, seedling and transplant damage in early planted crops of all sorts. Most recently in untreated sweet corn, home gardens and transplanted onions. Lucky for us, we got to dive right into this pest and see them in action, but not so lucky for the growers who weren’t expecting it! While we don’t have a lot to offer in terms of a rescue for these crops affected this year, we hope to help you plan for this in the future and understand what the threat looks like for the remainder of the season. There are two different species to blame: the Onion Maggot (Delia antiqua) and the Seed Corn Maggot (Delia platura). There is a third species that attacks brassica crops referred to as the Cabbage Root Fly (Delia radicum). All three are nearly identical to the naked eye but[Read More…]



You may be seeing a few “stink bug-like” insects crawling around on your cucurbit crops this time of year. However, these slightly more slender insects are not stink bugs, they are actually squash bugs. Similarly to stink bugs though, they do give off quite an odor when crushed! Squash bug adults and nymphs (immatures) (Figures 1 – 3) attack all cucurbit vine crops, especially squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and melon. These insects feed by sticking their needle-like mouthparts into plant parts to sip on sap. Feeding damage by adults and nymphs can cause significant damage to the fruit and foliage: damaged fruits are disfigured and discolored, and leaves may wilt and become brittle and discolored as well. Generally, squash bugs are not a problem if controlled earlier in the season with insecticides. If not however, it’s still possible to see adults, nymphs, and even egg masses on plants as we move[Read More…]


Recently we have received reports of swarms of hover flies (aka syrphid flies) around Indiana and wanted to take the opportunity to tell you a bit about this curious insect (Figure 1). Adult hover flies can sometimes be mistaken for bees or wasps, because they look a lot like them! Some people refer to hover flies as “sweat flies” or “sweat bees,” but these insects are actually quite different from bees. Hover flies belong to the Order Diptera, or the true flies. The most abundant group at this time of year belong to the genus Toxomerus, which feed on pollen (Figure 2) rather than other soft-bodied insects, like aphids. Hover flies are typically lighter in color, have a characteristic abdomen-bobbing behavior, and cannot sting at all – in fact, they are harmless. Sweat bees, on the other hand, are typically dark or metallic in color, smaller than common bees and[Read More…]