Pests and Progress Webinars

Pests and Progress Webinar banner

Check out these monthly webinars to keep up with the latest research related to integrated pest management (IPM). Webinars will be held virtually the third Wednesday of each month at 1:30 pm Eastern/12:30 pm Central time and will be delivered via Zoom. Click the "Register" below each presentation to sign up.

Wednesday, November 17

Diane PlewaName: Diane Plewa

Title: Plant Clinic Director and State IPM Coordinator 

Organization: University of Illinois

Title: Illinois IPM program Highlights and Future Directions

Abstract: The EIP-funded IPM program supports surveys, demonstrations, and education focused on invasive species, pest management, and pollinator protection in Illinois. The University of Illinois Extension and the Natural History Survey have been major components of past IPM grants and continue to play a key role in education and outreach for this program. Focusing on pollinator protection, bee numbers and species diversity were compared across nature preserves and former farmland which had been converted into conservation habitats to get a better idea of what species are present in Illinois and in what numbers, and to determine if conservation habitats support similar bee populations as native ecosystems. A youth pollinator education program was also developed from this project, while a website focused on pollinator education and protection in collaboration with University of Illinois Extension educators is in development. Field crop scouting schools focused on pest identification and damage and threshold evaluations were postponed due to the pandemic but are planned for the future, along with new and updated agronomic pest factsheets. 

The IPM program works closely with other pest management programs at the University to provide support and dissemination of their work. Surveys in cooperation with the Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey are conducted every year to monitor the presence and numbers of invasive pests in agronomic and specialty crops. Educational materials are produced about these pests, including identification aids and management recommendations. The IPM program also supports the University of Illinois Plant Clinic which processes samples from across Illinois and the United States, identifying pests and pathogens and providing research-based management recommendations for these issues. Plant Clinic personnel also provide education about plant health management for invasive and endemic pests and pathogens to the general public, agronomic producers, and green industry professionals. The IPM program uses newsletters, social media, field days, presentations, and workshops to broadcast information about effective, economical, and environmentally-friendly pest management. Future goals include expanding the pollinator website, producing a handbook of pests and pathogens of hemp in Illinois, surveying corn rootworm populations, and continuing education about invasive species and pest management in Illinois.


Biography:  Diane Plewa is a plant diagnostic specialist with the University of Illinois Extension, serving as the Director of the Plant Clinic and the State IPM Coordinator. She is responsible for the diagnosis of agricultural and ornamental plant samples received at the Plant Clinic, and for overseeing Plant Clinic services including outreach focused around plant health management. She works closely with state and federal regulatory agencies regarding the detection and management of invasive plant pests and pathogens to Illinois. Diane earned her B.S. in Crop Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her M.S. in Plant Pathology from the Ohio State University. Prior to working at the Plant Clinic she was a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension. 




Wednesday, October 13 (two presenters)

Name: Lee Miller

Title: Associate Professor & IPM Coordinator

Organization: University of Missouri

Title: Missouri IPM Highlights

Abstract: With its central location, Missouri is a keystone state for pest invasion from all directions, and wide-ranging environmental conditions within a single season challenge even the best plant growers. Research and curriculum developed by MU faculty in the Missouri IPM Program, which is shared with the public through MU Extension, is designed to aid in plant production to maximize benefit to society while avoiding detriments caused by unnecessary inputs. This project focuses mainly on management of weeds, diseases and insects in agriculture. Recent issues with synthetic auxin drift damage have spurred several research and associated outreach efforts to understand the symptoms and various reactions of plant species to drift damage. A wide reaching “Scouting Schools” program provides on-farm demonstrations of pathogen identification, with emphasis on fungicide resistance management and assessment of the distribution of emerging disease issues. Research involving a novel system for using impregnated netting for insect control instead of spray applications could reduce insecticide exposure for our critical pollinator species. Binding this all together is the framework of the MU IPM program, with a social media presence and broad website that hosts a pest monitoring network, three newsletters, various other publications, web applications and services.   


Biography:  Dr. Gerald (Lee) Miller is an Associate Professor of Turfgrass Pathology in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri. In this role, Miller currently directs research and extension programs at MU focused towards disease control in turfgrasses. Miller received his MS in Plant Pathology in 2001 at the University of Georgia and his PhD degree in plant pathology at North Carolina State University in 2010. Miller is currently the faculty lead for the MU Plant Diagnostic Clinic and director of the Missouri IPM program. From 2017 to 2021, he also directed the Missouri Pesticide Safety Education Program. 

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Name: Xi Xiong

Title: Associate Professor

Organization: University of Missouri

Title: Developing a Novel Mechanical Strategy for Control of Billbug

Abstract: Billbug damage to turf in many parts of the United States has become more problematic in recent years due to the emergence of a nation-wide collage of billbug species. Novel species interactions have resulted in the development of regional billbug pest complexes, with poorly understood seasonal biology. The lack of a decision-making tool, both for larval and adult populations, has resulted in heavy reliance on prophylactic and often misguided insecticide applications. This unprejudiced insecticide application not only resulted in poor control of billbug populations, but also increased risk of environmental safety to humans, natural enemies, and beneficial species like pollinators, as well as an elevated economic burden for professional turfgrass managers. This collaborative project among turf specialists and entomologists from three states seeks to develop innovative and sustainable approaches for the management of billbug in the urban environment using a mechanical tactic. In this presentation, we will report our progress made on three objectives: 1. develop a Degree-Day model that predicts the biofix of billbug adults; 2. validate and utilize a genetic tool that allow identification of billbug larvae; and 3. develop innovative and sustainable IPM tactics by using a turf sweeper, which was initially designed for synthetic turf surfaces.  


Biography:  Dr. Xi Xiong is an Associate Professor at the University of Missouri. Her specialty is in Turfgrass Science, and her research program focuses on the best management practices for turfgrass growing in the North Central region. She also has generated novel research with soil adjuvants and issues with soil water repellency on turf. Teaching responsibilities include instruction of an introductory turfgrass management course and an advanced turfgrass course.

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Wednesday, September 15

Cliff SadofName: Cliff Sadof

Title: Professor and IPM Coordinator

Organization: Purdue University

Title: Indiana EIP Project Highlights

Abstract: The Purdue Integrated Pest Management Program is a statewide program involving extension specialists in entomology, plant pathology, weed science, agronomy and horticulture. These specialists work closely with state and national stakeholder groups to prioritize content and meet their needs. The current EIP project provides state of the art information to promote IPM Implementation in agronomic crops and specialty crops, Community IPM, invasive species and pollinator health. This webinar will provide an overview of recent programming, apps, blogs and an assessment of their impacts. 


Biography: Cliff Sadof is a Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and served as the Indiana State Extension Specialist for insects of ornamental plants since 1990. Sadof received his BS in plant sciences from the College of Agriculture and Environmental Science at Rutgers University in 1980, and stayed there to complete his MS in entomology in 1982. After working for FMC Corporation for several years, he went to the University of Maryland to receive his PhD studying armored scales. Sadof teaches an undergraduate class on insects of ornamental plants and conducts research on how to integrate biological and chemical control when managing pests in landscapes and nurseries.  


As co-developer of the Purdue Plant Doctor App Series, Sadof has developed specific tools to help the nursery industry diagnose pest problems and communicate management options to their customers. With the help of his colleagues in Ohio and Michigan, he also runs a national webinar series that draws on the national experts to train individuals about emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, spotted lanternfly and other invasive pests. 


In his role of IPM Coordinator, Sadof investigates how modern communication tools can be used to reach target audiences and influence their pest management practices. To this end he works with the entire extension group to use data collected from web tools, apps, and webinars to understand how they are used and how they can be improved to become more effective.

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Wednesday, August 18

Bob Wright

Name: Bob Wright

Title: Professor and IPM Coordinator

Organization: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Title: Nebraska EIP Project Highlights (Crops, Pollinators, Housing and School IPM)

Abstract: The Nebraska Extension Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program is a statewide program involving multiple extension specialists and educators with expertise in entomology, plant pathology, weed science and agronomy.  The current EIP project addresses the following areas: IPM implementation in agronomic crops, IPM for pollinator health, IPM training and implementation in housing, IPM training and implementation in schools and coordination.

These areas were chosen based on stakeholder feedback and the existence of faculty expertise within Nebraska Extension. The webinar will provide an overview of recent programming and impacts of this project.


Robert (Bob) Wright is Professor of Entomology and Extension IPM Coordinator at the Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  He joined the department in 1988.  His research and extension program focuses on insect pest management in agronomic crops, including corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and grain sorghum.  Additionally, he contributes to the UNL online M.S degree program in Entomology by teaching ENTO 825, Management of Agronomic Insects and co-teaches ENTO 899, the Entomology Project required of all online students.

He has been active in several regional committees, including serving twice as chair of NCERA 222, the USDA Multistate committee on IPM in the North Central region. He currently serves as a member of the Advisory and Steering Committees for the North Central IPM Center.

Wright received a B. A. in Zoology from University of California, Santa Barbara in 1975, M. S. in Entomology from University of Arizona, 1977, and Ph. D. in Entomology, Ecology minor, from North Carolina State University in 1981.  From 1981-1988 he was a Research Associate in Entomology at Cornell University, Long Island Horticultural Research Lab, Riverhead NY, where he worked on insect management in potato, and turf and ornamental crops.

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Wednesday, July 21

Damon SmithSpeaker:  Damon Smith, Associate Professor, Field Crops Pathology; Faculty Director, Nutrient and Pest Management Program

Organization: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Title: Using Research-Based Solutions for Integrated Management of White Mold in Soybeans

Abstract: White mold, caused by the fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is one of the most important diseases of soybean in the Midwest U.S. In the last five seasons, white mold has resulted in more than 36 million bushels of yield loss in the North Central IPM Center states alone. Management of white mold is complicated and requires a multi-pronged approach. Researchers in the Midwest U.S. have been working to refine the integrated management strategy for white mold, which includes using resistant varieties, modifying row spacing and planting population, crop rotation, biological controls, and fungicide applications. To assist in making fungicide application decisions, researchers have also developed innovative smartphone prediction tools. The smartphone application (app) Sporecaster is freely available and can be used specifically to predict white mold at a specific location. This presentation will outline the latest white mold research-based tools and showcase how these tools have been integrated together to improve white mold management of soybeans.   

Biography: Damon Smith is an Associate Professor and Extension Plant Pathologist at UW-Madison. Damon is also the Director of the Nutrient and Pest Management Program at UW-Madison. Damon’s responsibilities include research efforts that focus on improving our understanding of the epidemiology of plant pathogens in order to develop better control recommendations for the sustainable management of field and forage crop diseases.  Damon is a native of Western New York State.  He earned his B.S. in Biological Sciences at the State University of New York, College at Geneseo, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from North Carolina State University.  Prior to Damon’s appointment at UW he was an assistant professor and extension specialist at Oklahoma State University for five years.

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Wednesday, May 19

Gary BrewerSpeaker:  Gary Brewer, Professor of Insect Pest Management

Organization: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Title: A Push-Pull Strategy to Manage Stable Flies

Abstract: Stable flies are global pests of cattle and in the U.S. are estimated to cause economic losses of 2.2 B USD annually. Although early researchers designed and tested various stable fly trap designs relying on visual attraction to panels, cloths, or cylinders of various materials they have not been widely used. Instead, stable fly management has largely relied on insecticides in a few modes of action classes. Because of concerns about developing or potential development of insecticide resistance there is a need for alternative control products. This study investigated the use of a biopesticide with repellent and contact toxicity to stable flies as a push tactic coupled with stable fly traps that are visually and olfactorily attractive as a pull tactic. In two years of field testing, the Push-Pull strategy was compared to positive (permethrin) and negative (untreated) control treatments using a six-week, repeated measures design. We found that the Push-Pull treatment performed the same as the permethrin treatment when measured seasonally, by study weeks, and by days in a week and in all cases differed from the untreated control. Stable fly trap improvements have also been tested by varying attractant concentration, release methods, and placements. Results have been inconsistent and additional trap trials will be done in the 2021 fly season. The Push-Pull strategy offers cattle producers a low-impact, alternative to standard insecticides to control stable flies in large pasture systems common to the Great Plains and elsewhere.

Biography: Dr. Gary Brewer is a professor of insect management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is currently involved in several projects, including evaluation of biopesticides and new IPM tactics and strategies; sunflower IPM with goals of reducing input costs and improving yield through trap copping and bee conservation; conservation biology with efforts to rear and reintroduce the Salt Creek tiger beetle; and IPM of flies on pasture cattle in central Nebraska. Dr. Brewer has 22 years experience as department head or chair (North Dakota State University and University of Nebraska-Lincoln). Throughout his career, Dr. Brewer has published 49 peer reviewed papers, co-authored 6 books/chapters, has been a PI or collaborator on 68 funded grants, and has taught 12 courses. 

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Wednesday, April 21

Dr. Rufus IsaacsSpeaker: Rufus Isaacs, Professor and Extension Specialist

Organization: Michigan State University

Title: When invasive pests disrupt IPM - responding to gall wasp outbreak in highbush blueberries

Abstract: The western region of Michigan is a prime location for production of highbush blueberries, with over 22,000 acres of this crop being produced for the fresh, frozen, and processed food markets. Due to the market expectation for perfect fruit, growers employ intensive IPM programs to prevent economic loss from insects, with primary focus on those that directly reduce yields and contaminate harvested fruit. High quality blueberries are achieved through a combination of cultural controls, monitoring, biological control, and insecticides. Implementation of blueberry IPM programs focused on blueberry maggot, fruitworms, and Japanese beetle led to a significant reduction in insecticide use during the early part of this century, but arrival of spotted-wing Drosophila caused a disruption of established IPM programs with many unintended consequences. This presentation will discuss some of those changes that happened to berry IPM programs over the last decade, and how research, extension, and grower communities have responded. As an example, I will highlight our work to address blueberry stem gall wasp, a native insect that has become more abundant over the past decade and the multi-disciplinary team that has been seeking solutions to this pest.

Biography:  Dr. Isaacs is a Professor and Extension Specialist at Michigan State University where he leads the Berry Crops Entomology laboratory in the Department of Entomology (College of Agriculture & Natural Resources). His research and extension program develops information on how to manage insects that influence berry farms and vineyards. Michigan is a major producer of berry crops and grapes and the entomological issues that affect these industries have been addressed by Dr. Isaacs and his team for the past two decades, with a focus on insect pest management and pollinator management to support farm profitability. In recent years, they have focused on blueberry stem gall wasp and spotted wing Drosophila to identify the most effective chemical controls, and to explore biological and cultural controls.

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Wednesday, March 17

Rob MorrisonSpeaker: Rob Morrison, Research Entomologist

Organization:  USDA-ARS Center for Grain and Animal Health Research

Title: Diversifying IPM after harvest: The promise of implementing insecticide netting to protect stored product

Abstract: Globally, $100 billion USD in postharvest commodities are lost due to insect feeding and damage. Control of these insects has historically relied on fumigation, but there are increasing regulatory, consumer, and biological constraints on the use of fumigants. As a result, there has been a push to diversify integrated pest management (IPM) after harvest. In our project, we have quickly assessed and supported adoption of long-lasting insecticide-incorporated netting (LLIN) in stored product IPM programs. We have found that exposure to deltamethrin netting results in a 2–3-fold reduction in movement and 95–100% reduction in dispersal after contact by multiple species and life stages of stored product insects compared to controls. Moreover, we have found that direct mortality ranged from 73–98% for 5 of 8 stored product species after brief 5-minute exposures to the insecticide netting. Further, deployment of insecticide netting via one of three methods in pilot-scale warehouses resulted in a 93% reduction in infestation and 99% fewer progreny produced in commodities after releasing thousands of insects compared to control warehouses containing netting with no insecticide. We found the netting can be successfully incorporated into an attract-and-kill trap to intercept stored product insects on the perimeter of facilities. Importantly, we found that multiple brief exposures to the net result in the same effects on stored product insects as longer, continuous exposures. We have worked with the producer of LLIN label it for use in postharvest settings in the US. Finally, there has been robust interest by stakeholders in adopting netting at food facilities across the Great Plains. Taken together, our project has successfully demonstrated the ability for insecticide netting to act as an effective novel tactic, while diversifying IPM programs at food facilities across the US to protect our commodities as they make their way to the end consumer.  

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