Rick Foster

Department of ​Entomology
Area(s) of Interest: Pest Mgmt. Vegetable and Fruit Crops
Rick Foster's website

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​The cool, wet weather we have been having is perfect for the root and seed maggots in early planted vegetables. I have already received calls about onion maggots. If you are planting early vegetables, check out the article in the March 19 issue of the Hotline for 2015. So, how do we define early planted vegetables? With regard to root and seed maggots, anything that you plant before the soil temperatures reach about 70°F is subject to attack from the flies. Of course, not every field will suffer damage but the potential is there. The use of black plastic mulch will heat up the soil more quickly and may help to reduce root and seed maggot damage.

​For most insect pests, we have some viable options to manage them organically. For years we have been looking for an organic solution for striped cucumber beetle and bacterial wilt on melons and cucumbers. It appears that we now have a viable option. There is a relatively new product, Cidetrak D, manufactured by Trece, which is sold as a gustatory stimulant. The active ingredient is buffalo gourd root powder, which contains a high percentage of cucurbitacin, which causes cucumber beetle to compulsively feed once they have tasted it. Years ago, there was a product available called SLAM, which contained buffalo root gourd and carbaryl, which we tested extensively and found to be quite effective. There were difficulties in applications, so the product never really took off with growers. More recently, my colleague in Kentucky, Dr. Ric Bessin, has tested Cidetrak D in conjunction with Entrust, which contains the active ingredient[Read More…]

​As you all know, many of our vegetable crops are dependent upon pollinators to move pollen from flower to flower. The cucurbits, muskmelons, cucumbers, watermelons, pumpkins, and squash, are completely dependent on insect pollination. Eggplant, okra, lima beans, and peppers will set fruit without pollinators but can have increased yield if pollinators are present. Honey bees are likely the most important pollinators for most of these crops, but other pollinators such as a number of species of native bees and other insects can also provide useful pollination services. In recent years, there has been a lot of attention given to larger than normal die off of honey bee colonies, commonly referred to as colony collapse disorder. There has been a great deal of discussion in the scientific community and in the public about the cause or causes of these colony deaths. Some of the suspected causes include new disease organisms,[Read More…]

​Cover crops should be killed at least a couple of weeks before planting vegetables. That will give the cover time to partially decompose, and time for any cutworm larvae that may be in the crop to die or pupate. If wet weather delays killing or incorporation of cover crops, the time between incorporation and planting may be shorter than normal, or the cover crop may be larger than normal. There are implications for pest, nutrient, and cover crop management. Black cutworm moths prefer to lay eggs in vegetated areas, including fields with cover crops or weeds. They typically show up in early May. To track black cutworm moth catches in pheromone traps throughout the state, refer to the Purdue Pest & Crop Newsletter at http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/pestcrop/2015/index.html. If larvae are present in the cover crop and they survive until the cash crop is planted or emerges, they may cause serious stand loss.[Read More…]

One way insects communicate with individuals of the same species is with pheromones. Pheromones are volatile chemicals released by an insect that usually can be detected only by individuals of the same species. There are a number of different types of pheromones, but the most common type is the sex pheromone. Usually the females will emit a tiny amount of a chemical that attracts the male to her and increases the likelihood of mating. Because the chemical is volatile, air currents carry it. The male detects the pheromone in the air with receptors on his antennae. He then flies upwind to find the source of the pheromone, a prospective mate. The chemical compositions of pheromones for a number of pest species have been identified and synthetic copies can be produced in the laboratory. Synthetic pheromones can be used in conjunction with traps to catch male insects. Listed below are some, but[Read More…]

​Three species of seed and root maggots attack vegetables in Indiana. The seedcorn maggot feeds on seeds and seedlings of sweet corn, cucurbits, lima and snap beans, peas, and other crops. Cabbage maggots can cause serious damage to transplants of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts and make the fleshy roots of radishes, turnips, and rutabagas unmarketable. Onion maggots are pests of seedling onions, developing bulbs and onions intended for storage. Seedcorn maggot flies emerge in April and May and lay eggs preferentially in areas with decaying organic matter. Fields that are heavily manured or planted to a cover crop are more likely to have seedcorn maggot injury. Maggots burrow into the seed and feed within, often destroying the germ. The seeds fail to germinate and plants do not emerge from the soil, leaving gaps in the stand. When infested seeds germinate, the seedlings are weak and may die. Maggots[Read More…]

​I’m trying something new this year. I plan to tweet out what I am seeing as far as insects in fruit and vegetables as I see it, rather than waiting for the next edition of the newsletters to come out. My twitter address is “Rick Foster @PurdueFVInsect”. If you currently have a twitter account, please consider following me. If you don’t, it’s not hard to set one up. I was able to do it with only a little help from someone younger than myself.

The goal of the Vegetable Crops Hotline is to provide vegetable growers with timely information that helps you to improve your vegetable production and marketing. This url tinyurl.com/lqww2lw links to a very short survey that will help us to make the Hotline more useful to you. We are especially interested in any comments you have regarding how we can improve the dissemination of information. This survey should take you less than 5 minutes to complete so we would be very grateful if you would take the time to complete it. This survey is voluntary and anonymous. All information is confidential and no hidden tracking of individual responses is being used. As always, thank you for your assistance.