Developing an IPM Approach to Reduce Damage from the Allium Leafminer (Phytomyza gymnostoma Loew) in Commercial Allium Production

Worksite Location
Hudson Valley, NY (Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program)
Project Dates
May 29th- August 23rd
Faculty Sponsor
Dr. Brian Nault
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Ethan Grundberg and Teresa Rusinek
Wages Up To
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

The new invasive insect pest, the allium leafminer, was first found in New York state in December 2016. Since then, the pest has spread across the region and is causing significant economic losses to allium growers, especially leek producers, in the Hudson Valley. Dr. Brian Nault, Department of Entomology, is working with Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program vegetable specialists Ethan Grundberg, and Teresa Rusinek to assess the efficacy of cultural and chemical control tactics to reduce damage from the allium leafminer. Findings from this on-going research are expected to enable growers to reduce the number of insecticide applications, better understand which chemistries are most effective at reducing allium leafminer damage, gain information on the most effective timing of insecticide applications during the 6-week adult flight period, and lay the foundation for the development of an integrated pest management program for managing allium leafminer on commercial farms.

Roles and Responsibilities

The student intern will be provided an opportunity to develop skills in conducting biological research and agricultural extension. The intern will be involved in collecting, entering, and analyzing data from several field trials assessing cultural and chemical control tactics to reduce damage from the allium leafminer. Specifically, the intern will contribute to research conducted by extension specialists Ethan Grundberg and Teresa Rusinek assessing the potential impact of the use of reflective plastic mulch on egg-laying in garlic and scallions as well as identifying the most effective timing of two organic insecticide applications for reducing damage in garlic and scallions during the 6-week long flight period. Additionally, the intern will help support the work of Dr. Brian Nault in carrying out field trials of conventional insecticides on reducing damage from allium leafminer in onion plantings. The student will have the opportunity to share results with commercial growers in Eastern New York by developing newsletter articles and creating data visualizations, and possibly contributing to a regional podcast. 

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Introductory biology and entomology coursework will be helpful for understanding the context of the research, but not absolutely necessary. Proficiency in the Microsoft Office suite, especially Excel, is required. Familiarity with statistical analysis software, especially JMP, is preferred, but not required. Good communication skills and a strong interest in learning more about commercial vegetable production are necessary. The ability to work independently and complete repetitive tasks in an outdoor summer work environment are expectations. Housing may be available at the Orange County Vegetable Growers Association Research Lab in Goshen, NY. 

Benefits and Skills

This intern will learn about and participate in experimental design, sampling, data collection, and insect pest identification. The intern will gain a practical understanding of integrated pest management tactics. They will also develop professional relationships with farmer cooperators and other staff that they will need to communicate with on a regular basis concerning the project. The intern will work as part of a team of extension specialists and researchers but will also learn skills to work independently including time management and problem solving. There is potential to learn about different outreach media to disseminate research results as well.