The Entomology program at the Eastern Shore AREC focuses on the development and assessment of novel approaches for managing arthropod pests of vegetables. Research interests include biological control, ecology, integrated pest management, and insecticide resistance management strategies.
The 2020-2021 Mid-Atlantic Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations Guide
is available here.
Novel pesticides, including many biological compounds and biorational chemistries are evaluated annually for control of the major arthropod pests of potato, sweet potato, cucurbit vegetables, cole crops, sweet corn, tomatoes, snap beans, peppers, and eggplants. Research results help the development of new products and label registrations for the vegetable grower.
Ecology and management of wireworms
Wireworms are the larval stage of click beetles and can be serious underground pests of many crops particularly potatoes. A number of research grants have been obtained by Thomas Kuhar to study the management of this important pest group. Projects include the following: 1. Monitoring species complex, 2. Evaluating sampling methods, 3. Investigating habitat preferences, 4. Studying the phenology of wireworms with potato crop development, and 5. Evaluating novel insecticide chemistries and timings for control.
Improving Management of Colorado potato beetle on Virginia potatoes
Virginia remains a major producer of summer potatoes in the U.S., and pest management is critical successful crop production. Colorado potato beetle is the most damaging pest; without effective control of this and other insect pests, crop yield losses would exceed 50% annually in most Virginia potato fields. Further, Colorado potato beetle has developed resistance to many of the insecticides used to control it. Research has been ongoing since 2001 at Virginia Tech, focusing on the ecology of this pest and exploring novel pest management strategies and tools that are safer for the user and the environment. Through special cooperative agreements with the USDA-ARS Beltsville, Maryland and USDA-ARS Madison, Wisconsin, along with several agrichemical companies, and with the assistance of two Ph.D. students, Erin Hitchner (2007) and Adam Wimer (2012), who conducted their research at the ESAREC, we have a better understanding of host plant attraction and chemical ecology of CPB, have evaluated the use of pheromone and plant attractants in an IPM and attract-and-kill strategy for the pest, and have monitored the insecticide resistance levels and metabolic mechanisms for the resistance of CPB populations in Virginia. Another major facet of our research has been to assist in the evaluations of novel insecticidal chemicals. We have found that many insecticides such as chlorantraniliprole, cyantraniliprole, spinetoram, pyridalyi, novaluron, metaflumizone, and various industry experimental compounds that may be registered in the future were efficacious against CPB life stages. Most of these insecticides are considered reduced risk products with low use rates, which can help reduce health risks to consumers, applicators, and the environment. Moreover, the novel made of actions of these newer chemicals can aid in insecticide resistance management. These efficacy data from Virginia aided in getting many of these novel insecticides registered as products for use on potatoes in the U.S. including Coragen and Voliam (chlorantraniliprole), Verimark and Exirel (cyantraniliprole), Radiant (spinetoram), Rimon (novaluron), and Belay (clothianidin).
This research has been supported by annual grants from the Virginia Irish Potato Board, Special Cooperative Agreements with the USDA-ARS, IR-4 Biopesticides Grants Program, USDA-ARS Special Potato Research Grants, as well as industry partnerships. Results from these research trials are presented in-state and nationally at a number of extension venues, scientific meetings, and field days each year.
Biology and management of brown marmorated stink bug in vegetables
The invasive brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is a serious new threat to agriculture in the U.S. Significant damage occurred to sweet corn, peppers, and other vegetables in the mid-Atlantic U.S. in 2010. In response to the BMSB pest threat, the vegetable entomology team led by Thomas Kuhar is leading or involved with several collaborative research efforts that address this issue, particularly as it relates to vegetable production. Kuhar is a co-PI on a large recently-funded USDA NIFA SCRI award that has brought over $500,000 to Virginia Tech. He is the vegetable commodity team leader on this project. In addition to this grant, he is also a PI or co-PI on a USDA Northeast Regional IPM grant, a USDA Southern Region IPM Grant, a USDA Southern SARE On-Farm Research Grant, a Virginia Deptartment of Agriculture Specialty Crops Grant, and a Virginia Ag Council grant; all of which address different research questions related to this invasive bug.
So far we have determined the relative importance of wild host tree species to the ecology of this pest, assessed the host plant preference for various vegetables, and identified a number of efficacious insecticides for control.
More information can be found on the brown marmorated stink bug at STOPBMSB.org
Publications on the brown marmorated stink bug: