Jacob Pecenka

2 articles by this author

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Figure 1: Striped cucumber beetle seen feeding on newly transplanted watermelon. The first-generation beetles can occur in high enough numbers to stunt plant growth or kill the seedling outright.

While in your fields in the last week you may have noticed fewer striped cucumber beetles on the leaves and stems of the growing cucurbit plants (Figure 1). This is because there are two generations of this pest in Indiana; the 1st generation adults that overwintered in the field have mated and left behind their eggs in the soil around the crop roots. When these eggs hatch the cucumber beetle larvae will feed on plant roots until they pupate into adults and emerge as the second generation typically in early July. Fields in northern Indiana will likely be 1-2 weeks behind on the second-generation emergence compared to southern regions of the state. This means that while you still may see adult striped cucumber beetles in your vegetable fields, they are likely not going to be found at high enough populations to cause economic damage (1 beetle per plant in cucumbers[Read More…]

Insecticides are often needed to control pests in vegetable crops, but in crops that require pollinators we often worry about the impact those insecticides may have on those pollinators (Figure 1). In the summer of 2018, a team of researchers at Purdue University explored the effects of insecticide applications on watermelon yield across Indiana, considering their impacts on both pests and pollinators. Using 5 of the Purdue Agricultural Centers (PACs), pairs of ½ acre watermelons plots were planted, each in the middle of a 15-acre corn field (10 total plots) (Figure 2). The two watermelon plots at each site were assigned either to a conventional or an integrated pest management (IPM) system. The corn surrounding the conventionally managed watermelons had a neonicotinoid seed treatment, the watermelons were given a neonicotinoid soil drench at transplant, and 4-5 pyrethroid sprays were applied throughout the summer regardless of pest pressure. The IPM system[Read More…]