NCAT teaches Pest/Beneficial Identification Workshop: “Farm CSI”

NCAT teaches Pest/Beneficial Identification Workshop: “Farm CSI”

NCAT specialist Rex Dufour traveled to Stockton, CA to the Boggs Tract Community Farm on April 18 and April 20 to conduct 2 part classroom and field course on Pest & Beneficial Identification and Management. For the classroom component, Rex focused on talking about basic approaches to pest management—understanding the types of damage that chewing insects cause vs. sucking insects, and clues to look for in identifying what critters are doing the damage. Rex also discussed ATTRA’s Ecological Pest Management Database, and how to use it and handed out copies of ATTRA’s Organic IPM Field Guide, which provides pictures of each lifecycle stage of commonly encountered pests and beneficials.

For the field component, participants were each provided hand lenses and taught how to use them. Then, participants walked around the community garden and observed insect egg masses of stinkbugs, lady bird beetles and tomatillo leaf beetle, as well as seeing the adult forms of these critters. Infestations of aphids on bell beans, which were also loaded with lady bird beetle adults and pupae were seen as a way to develop alternate prey to bring in lady bird beetles to control aphids on other crops. Damage to lettuce and other leafy greens was examined and clues as to the cause (caterpillars, snails, slugs or other critters) was discussed. One participant noted that this was like a “CSI: Farm” episode, which summed up the need for farmers to always be on the lookout for clues related to damage happening to their crops, which will help to identify the pest and how to manage it.

Photos: (L) Ladybird beetle adult and larva on fava bean leaf (photo by Shane Zurligen). (R) Participants in the field class at Boggs Tract Farm. (photo by Rex Dufour, NCAT)

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