Congratulations Gemelle!

Gemelle Brion successfully defended her thesis and will be officially receiving her Masters degree in a few weeks. The title of her thesis is, “Swede midge, Contarinia nasturtii (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae), response to Brassica oleracea in simulated intercropping systems”. Gemelle finished her Masters research in a whopping year and a half. She put her head down, worked really hard, never really looked up, and voila – now has something to show for it. And, she landed a job too! She is now working at the NRCS in Maryland. Great job Gemelle!

Gemelle examined a wide range of intercrops to test their effect on swede midge larval densities on broccoli plants. She tested whether plant growth form, total leaf area, proportional leaf area (host to non-host), and plant phylogenetic distance influenced the number of midge larvae found on broccoli plants. She has found some very interesting results showing that closely related plant genera (within Brassicaceae) may be most effective as intercrops! Stay tuned and visit the garden outside of our building to see whether it works outside!

tea party2

IAEL Lab members (Chase Stratton, Kristian Brevik, Yolanda Chen, Victor Izzo, and Gemelle Brion) celebrating at an undisclosed location in Burlington.

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Thank you to the members of City Market!

City Market

Thanks to the Co-op Patronage Seedling Grants and thank you City Market Members! Our project to determine the critical damage threshold was selected by City Market members for funding. Due to a larger than expected pot of money, our grant was three times larger than we expected! To us, this is a sign that each household voted with their own wallet.

It was great to celebrate along with The Schoolhouse, Living Well group, Vermont Goat Collective, and Hunger Free Vermont.

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Thank you USDA Exploratory Grants!

We just got word that USDA is funding us to resequence the Colorado potato beetle genome to understand rapid pest evolution and improve sustainable pest management! This grant will be led by Sean Schoville (Univ. of Wisconsin) and will also involve Dave Hawthorne (Univ. of Maryland)

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Attention Vegetable Growers! Help us fill out a survey on swede midge – a worsening pest in the Northeastern US

I am requesting your help in forwarding this survey to vegetable growers in your region. As you may know, swede midge is slowly invading within the Northeastern US.

We are currently conducting a survey to determine: 1) how much existing knowledge growers have on effective pest management practices and 2) determine grower willingness to try alternative pest management practices.

We would appreciate if you could complete this online survey. It should only take about 5-8 minutes of your time.

To have your responses included in our grower survey, which will be summarized for the USDA and regional IPM center, please fill the survey out by March 12, 2015.
Here is a summary statement introducing swede midge:
Swede midge, Contarinia nasturtii, is an invasive insect pest in the Northeastern US that can cause devastating losses to Brassica crops (up to 100%). Given the staggering losses caused by the midge and its recent rise in damage in the Northeastern US (especially upstate NY), there is serious need to develop sustainable pest management strategies prior to the onset of major economic losses. Brassicas are a vital crop for Northeastern vegetable growers; New York is the top producer for fresh cabbage nationwide, and 2nd in processing cabbage (total value of $62 million per year). The current major pest management recommendation, aside from long and widely-spaced rotations, is to use systemic neonicotinoids at planting, followed by weekly applications of neonicotinoids. There are few alternatives to conventional insecticides, so organic growers are particularly at risk with the increase in midge damage in the Northeastern US.

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Yolanda to speak at Wageningen University

Yolanda will be heading the Netherlands to Wageningen University, where she will give a talk as part of the Evolution and Ecology Seminars on May 23! She will also teach a Master class as part of the visit.

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