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Essential Scouting Tools
Sanitation & Greenhouse-keeping
Sticky Card Monitoring
Plant Inspections for Insects, Diseases & Nutrient Problems
Plant Mediated IPM Systems
Biological Control Monitoring & Quality Assessment

Essential Scouting Tools

Scouting is the essential first step of an IPM program. Early intervention of problems is critical for success. Scouting is a routine and systematic way to gather information on crop problems and treatment efficacy. To be able to effectively manage current and anticipate future pests, you must first be able to identify them accurately and are encouraged to record them on a scouting form or in a database. There is even a mobile App for that!  This helps to establish treatment thresholds and act as a source of information in the future on treatment efficacy. Since timing is everything when managing pests only you will be able to decide what numbers  are tolerable and require intervention. Scouting is essential for pest management decisions and will save time and money in the long run by being able to correct problems before they get out of control.

A Step-By-Step scouting guide and sample scouting forms are available under our grower training webpage

scouting tools
Additional Information

Establishing Treatment Thresholds 'UCIPM':
IPM Scouting & Decision Making 'UMass':

IPM Monitoring Report 'UMass': 
Learn About Scouting For Pests (GreenMethods):
Pest Management in Retail Greenhouses 'UMASS':
Scouting for Arthropod Pests 'Cornell':
Scouting and Monitoring Pests in Commercial Greenhouses 'Oklahoma State':

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Sanitation & Greenhouse-Keeping

Start clean to stay clean! Sanitation is essential to making IPM work. The benefits are numerous - fewer pest and disease problems, decreased pesticide use and healthier plants, employees and customers. Sanitation practices include weed removal under benches and along greenhouse exteriors, the removal of 'pet plants', disinfection of benches, greenhouse floors, pots and flats, algae growth prevention on benches and floors, the isolation of insect infested or weak plants and cleaning out drains of debris and soil.  Proper sanitation is the most cheapest and efficient way to grow healthy plants!

weedy floor
no weeds

Additional Information
Cleaning & Disinfecting the Greenhouse 'UMASS':
Managing Weeds Around Greenhouse 'UMASS':
Screening to Exclude Pests 'OMAFRA':

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Sticky Card Monitoring

Colored sticky cards are a common way to monitor flying pests. Most growers use yellow cards because they attract several pest species. Some use blue cards because they are particularly attractive to thrips, but not so much so for whiteflies or fungus gnats. The most common recommendation is 1-2 cards per 1,000 sq. foot of bench. One disadvantage is the cards also attract and catch natural enemies insects. Cards can be secured vertically just above the crop or horizontally by placing on the bench surfaces. On a weekly basis cards should be checked and the numbers of insects recorded on a scouting form to track population numbers. A word of caution though, cards are not always 100% effective! Insects do not always show up on them even when they are present (such as non-winged aphids). Thats why random plant inspections are an important activity that should supplement sticky card usage. Click HERE for a handout that describes common greenhouse pests encountered on sticky cards.

Additional Information
Monitoring with Sticky Traps 'UCIPM':

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Plant Inspections: Insect, Disease & Nutrient Problems

Random plant inspections are an important part of scouting for insects and diseases. This is where it pays off to know what plants are susceptible to which insects and diseases so you can be sure to inspect those first.  Knowing how to diagnose a plant problem is a useful step by step process that can help properly id the issue and an easy way to make organized notes in your record book. At least once a week a portion of the crop should be inspected by selecting a plant at random, turning it over, and inspecting the undersides of leaves, stems and roots. You can also turn the plant upside down and tap it over a white sheet of paper to dislodge insects. This will help to find pest hot spots that can be marked with a flag or some tape for closer monitoring or a site for spot treatment. Random inspections of incoming plant materials is also important in order to catch any problems that may be coming in with the new plants. If plant problems arent a result of insects and diseases, testing of pH and nutrient levels is highly recommended.

Additional Information
UMASS Floric. Update 'Cultural Problems Photo Library':
UMASS Floric. Update 'Diseases Photo Library':
UMASS Floric. Update 'Nutritional Disorders Photo Library'':
UMASS Floric. Update 'Symptoms Look Alikes Photo Library'':

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Plant-Mediated IPM Systems

Plant Mediated IPM Systems encompass the variety of plant related tools available to combat pests and support biological controls in greenhouses. Some examples are indicator plants (used to pull pests away from crops or to show disease presence), trap plants (used to pull pests away from crops and as a site for their control by pesticides, biological controls or disposal), banker plants (plants that supply  prey 'non-pests' for a continual source of biological controls), habitat plants (plants that provide the necessities for biological controls to survive on 'food, shelter etc) & guardian plants (plants that encompass all the functions of an indicator, trap, habitat and banker plant into one). These can be a very useful tool to assist in a scouting routine. They will be able to show you the pests that are present, help monitor biological control activity and promote their longevity and be used as a treatment site for either chemical or biological controls.

Eggplant Guardian Plant for Whitefly in Poinsettias
Marigold Indicator
Marigold Indicator Plant for Thrips in Bedding Plants
Bean in Tomato
Bush Bean Trap Plant for Spider Mites in Tomatoes

Additional Information
Using Plants to Fight Pests 'Grower Talks':
Virus Indicator Plants 'UMASS':

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Biological Control Monitoring & Quality Assessment

You should always inspect your biological controls upon receiving them to be sure they are healthy and alive. It is also essential that you scout your crop for them and are aware of what their various life stages look like. Ones that can fly you can find on  sticky cards and many crawling ones can be found on the undersides of leaves. You can also (with some imagination and home craftsmanship) do your own quality checks of those that are received in their immature stages.  For parasites and parasitoids a canning jar with a fine mesh lid (sheer panty hose) with a screwed on top works well. Inside you can place a portion of a sticky card or double sided tape so when the wasps emerge they will be stuck on the card. Placing them in a plastic baggie also works well. After a week or two you will be able to observe emerged adults. For predatory mites and such when you open the container, inspect for them running around on the undersides of the lids. This is where your hand lens comes us useful! One of the best tools are small hand held hand microscopes that can be obtained for less than $20. Always remember though that your supplier is your BEST resource on your biological controls and how to maximize their effectiveness.

Aphids & Mummies

Aphid 'Mummies' Parasitized by Parasitic Wasps 

Feltiella maggot

Feltiella Maggot (Predatory on Spider Mites)
Lady Beetle Larva

Lady Beetle Larva

Additional Information

Applied-Bionomics Quality Assessment:
Green Methods - Each Factsheet Has Scouting Methods for That Biocontrol!:
Quality Assessment of Biological Control Agents 'UMASS':
Quality Assurance of Biocontrol Products: Grower Guide 'Vineland':

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