Late Summer Scouting and Beneficial Insect Release

Friday, September 4, 2020

By: Caitlin Congdon, Acting Vegetable Specialist & Talia Plaskett, Protected Crops Specialist  

As the air starts to move away from the heat of the summer and into cooler fall temperatures, it’s important to continue scouting your high tunnels and greenhouses for insect pests. Although the days for your crop may be numbered, many insect pests overwinter in the ground or in the debris in and around the growing space as a part of their life cycle. The more insects that overwinter successfully, the higher your pest pressure will be on next year's crop. Once pests start slowing down and hiding away for the colder months, the window of opportunity for controlling these pests closes. Beneficial insects typically do not survive the winter months, so planning to release them late summer can help to reduce pest populations while they are still active and reduce their population sizes for the following spring. For those pests that do remain active in the colder weather, it is important to keep those numbers low in the fall to limit pest pressures throughout the colder months. 

During the harvest season, it can be difficult to maintain a scouting program due to the sheer volume of work to be done on any given day. However, it is important to remember that the early days of new crop are critical, and ensuring your plants have every advantage they can get is crucial to a successful and high yielding season. Taking that extra time to scout and release beneficials will pay off in the long run and mean less headache in the coming year.  

Cornell University Extension in New York conducted on-farm applied research on Aphid Management in Winter Tunnel Greens which offers some practical insights into late season integrated pest management.