Laura Ingwell

Entomology
Area(s) of Interest: Vegetable Pest Management, Protected Agriculture, Controlled Environment Agriculture, Urban Agriculture
I work on insect pest management and pollination in horticultural crop production. I specialize in high tunnel production systems, examining biological control and conventional pest management strategies and the impacts of agricultural inputs on crop pollinators with an emphasis on managed bumble bees. I am interested in evaluating organic and conventional pest management with an emphasis on sustainable practices for food production.

26 articles by this author

Article List
Fig. 1 Corn earworm adult on silk. Photo courtesy John Obermeyer.

We have begun our state-wide trapping and monitoring program for corn earworm (Figure 1). The latest trap catch information can be found here. Traps have been placed at each of the eight Purdue Agricultural Centers throughout the state. Trap catches at the reporting farms are already in the double digits. Please refer to E-31 to learn more about corn earworm identification and management. Management and insecticide sprays target the eggs that are laid, preferably on fresh corn silk. If no field corn in the area is silking, which is true for most this year, use a threshold of 1-3 moths per night per pheromone trap. You only need to spray your sweet corn if it has silk present. When field corn begins to silk and green silk is present the threshold increases to 10 moths per night. Eggs are laid individually on developing silk. They hatch within 2-5 days and[Read More…]


Figure 3. Cucumber cultivar Taurus were grown in the front, cultivar Corinto was grown in the back.

Supported by NC SARE (LNC17-390), we are continuing research for improving high tunnel cucumber production. One of the biggest challenges for growing cucumbers in high tunnels in the summer is two-spotted spider mites. Dry and hot environments featured in high tunnels allow two-spotted spider mite populations to increase rapidly. The mites cause leaf yellowing, necrosis, and defoliation that interfere with plant photosynthesis. Yield can be significantly reduced. The pest also causes direct damage on cucumber fruit, resulting in a sandpaper-like texture to the rind (Figure 1). Early detection is the key for controlling two-spotted spider mites. As soon as two-spotted spider mites are detected, control efforts need to be taken. In the early stage, yellowish specks on the upper side of the leaves may be noticed (Figure 2). Turn the leaf over, on the other side of where the yellow specks are, you may find the presence of two-spotted spider[Read More…]


Figure 1: A cantaloupe plant surrounded by striped cucumber beetles that have died after feeding on a plant treated with an imidacloprid product.

I know this may not come as a surprise to most of you, but it is rare that we get to observe the effectiveness of insecticides in such a dramatic way as we encountered when visiting a melon grower in southern IN recently. And in this case, the decision to apply an insecticide at transplant was a good one. In the photo below (Figure 1), one can see an accumulation of dead striped cucumber beetles that have fed upon a cantaloupe seedling that was treated with an imidacloprid soil drench (Trade names include: Admire Pro®, Macho®, Midashe Forte®, Montana®) at transplant 14 days prior to the photo being taken. The beetles are dead because they fed upon the cantaloupe plant and ingested the imidacloprid. Therefore, the plants were protected from defoliation by the beetles, but what about bacterial wilt? Did the act of feeding, however brief, cause bacterial wilt to[Read More…]


Seed Corn Maggot in cucurbit stem. Photo credit John Obermeyer.

In addition to delaying much of our fieldwork, the cool set spring has wreaked havoc on some of the plants we have been able to squeeze in during brief dry periods. We have received reports of damage caused by seedcorn maggots (Figure 1) and wireworms (Figure 2). In preparation of this article I browsed the Vegetable Crops Hotline archives and came across eight articles published by Rick Foster. What do they have in common? Associations with weather and limited strategies for control. Capture LFR® remains the only product labeled and for wireworms only. Rick Foster did some work with this product and had some promising results. Seedcorn maggots typically lay their eggs in organic matter and feed on seed in the soil, however, they can also cause damage in cucurbit transplants. The adults are active in April and May laying eggs in the field. When soil temperatures reach 70°F the[Read More…]


As we wait patiently for the ground to dry and our seedlings to grow, take a moment to consider your strategy for maintaining plant health. If you haven’t started already, it is time to make sure that your pest monitoring programs are in place for the season. For those of you growing in high tunnels, you may already be encountering some of the troublesome insects that can keep us up at night, such as aphids and spider mites. Here, I want to review some basic considerations for monitoring and detecting insect pests. First, it is important to recognize that the best way to avoid insect damage is prevention. This includes sanitation practices and monitoring of transplants. Regardless of your production method (greenhouse, high tunnel, field) you want to be sure that any plants that have overwintered in the area free from overwintering pests. This can include disease residue on plant[Read More…]


Figure 2: Some of the tomato plants in this photo have been stunted as a result of infection by tomato spotted wilt virus.

This disease was recently observed in a tomato greenhouse. This article will review tomato spotted wilt virus symptoms, biology and management. Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) and the closely related Impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV) are usually observed in greenhouse or high tunnel situations. Both TSWV and INSV affect many hosts, including vegetables and flowering ornamentals. Symptoms vary according to host, stage of plant affected and environmental conditions. Both diseases can cause stunting, yellowing, necrotic rings, leaf mottle and more. Figure 1 shows a tomato leaf with a necrotic mottle caused by TSWV. Figure 2 shows tomato plants stunted as a result of infection by TSWV. Additional symptoms may be viewed here . Since the symptoms of these two viruses vary, plants with suspicious symptoms should be submitted to the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory for confirmation of virus symptoms. TSWV and INSV cannot spread without thrips. Thrips are small[Read More…]


Bacterial wilt is a serious pest of cucumbers and melons. This disease is caused by the bacterium, Erwinia tracheiphila. However, it is spread by the striped or spotted cucumber beetle. Most management schemes have concentrated on controlling the cucumber beetle in order to lessen the severity of bacterial wilt. Currently, management of bacterial wilt often takes the form of a soil applied systemic insecticide such as Admire Pro® at transplanting and follow up pyrethroid products applied foliarly about 3 weeks post transplanting. The pyrethroid applications are made when the 1 beetle per plant threshold is met. Every year, there is a melon variety trial at the Southwest Purdue Agriculture Center in Vincennes, IN. In 2018, the trial included several specialty melon varieties. We noticed more bacterial wilt than usual (Figure 1). Therefore, we decided to rate the varieties to see if there were any differences in susceptibility. Figure 2 shows[Read More…]


Many of us may forget about the pesky squash vine borer until it’s too late. This pest of cucurbit crops tends to be sporadic in our region; you are either battling it every year or it hardly makes an appearance. The squash vine borer is a member of the clear-winged moths, a unique group of moths that are active during the daytime. They are very beautiful with their bright colored orange tufts on their legs (Figure 1), but can be devastating. The insect overwinters as a late instar larvae or pupa in the soil. When the weather warms, they mature and adults emerge. You can scout for the first generation of adults in the spring and should target pesticide applications at the base of the plant when adults are first spotted and for two weeks thereafter. If you wait, the eggs will hatch and the larvae will bore into the[Read More…]


Entomologists are looking for the lettuce aphid, Nasonovia ribis-nigri. If you are growing lettuce, or other leafy greens, including under protected agriculture structures, please keep your eyes out for aphids. We will be using these insects in research examining pest management strategies in hydroponic vegetable production systems. We are aiming to develop low-input IPM strategies, compatible with organic production, to effectively manage aphid pests. Contact Dr. Laura Ingwell at (765) 494-6167 or lingwell@purdue.edu. Live specimens are needed, we will verify the identification of the species.


It’s not uncommon for us to get calls from growers who are expressing concern about a particular insecticide product that is not working as well as the growers would like. Often, growers will suggest that Product X is no good or that the target insect has now developed resistance to that particular insecticide. Before we jump to conclusions, we need to consider a number of possible causes for poor performance by an insecticide. Here are some questions to consider if you are not getting the control you would like. Are you using the right product? Every fall, a group of vegetable entomologists from throughout the Midwest thoroughly revise the insecticide recommendations in the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide (ID56). The products we list in the guide are the ones that we believe work for a particular pest, based either on research trials or through our experience with growers. That’s why we[Read More…]