Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Insect Management

Catherine Eastman

Insect management is based on a recognition that "pest" is an arbitrary term and that the benefits of insects to this planet far outweigh their negatives. A very small percentage of insect species are considered pests when, under certain circumstances, they are injurious to human health and habitation, animal welfare, food production, or amenity plantings. Even with species designated as pests, their populations must reach sufficient size and be in synchrony with availability of their hosts at a particular time and place for them to cause harm. Consequently, insect pest management is predicated on (1) correct identification of the injurious species, (2) a thorough knowledge of its biology and that of its host(s) within an ecological framework, (3) measurement of pest population levels at intervals essential to determine host injury, and (4) availability of a variety of techniques for maintaining pest populations below injurious levels. With an emphasis on prevention and avoidance of pest problems, the goal is to provide long-term solutions that reduce injury from specific pests to tolerable levels through integrated tactics that take into account economic, public health, and environmental considerations.


Survey scientists have been a source of sound ecologically based research and educational information on economically important insects and their management since the founding of the Survey. Of the current Survey research projects (listed at the end of this introduction), a few examples will serve to give a flavor of the diverse activities that fall under the broad heading of insect management:


* Survey scientists (with collaborators at Rush Medical College and North Park University) are conducting long-term surveys of "deer" tick populations within the state to monitor their distribution and incidence of the Lyme disease pathogen within those populations.


* Surveys of western corn rootworms in soybean fields in 47 Illinois counties are helping to determine the spread of crop rotation-resistant populations of this rootworm and identify regions with the greatest potential for future expansion of these populations.


* Mosquito oviposition trap data are being used to develop models for predicting first appearance of Culex pipiens (principal vector of St. Louis encephalitis). When this species becomes more numerous than C. restuans, abatement programs can maximize timing of mosquito control measures to prevent disease outbreaks.


* Researchers are evaluating new broccoli cultivars high in glucosinolates (plant-produced defensive compounds) to determine their potential for reducing populations of major insect pests.


* Field trials that determine the effectiveness of chemical and biological pesticides to control major insect pests on six agricultural commodities (including resistant/tolerant varieties and genetically engineered corn) are providing impartial information that can be used in integrated pest management programs.


* Nematode species are being evaluated for their potential to control the Asian longhorned beetle, a new insect pest in Illinois.


* Researchers are assessing the effectiveness of several natural enemies to reduce populations of fungus gnats under different cultural practice regimes in order to determine how best to utilize beneficial insects to control these important pests in greenhouse floriculture production.


An equally strong component of Survey scientists' activities in insect management is dissemination of research information to the public. It may be something as low-key as showing a vegetable grower one-on-one that the flea beetles on his horseradish plants are not the same species as the flea beetles that, after a mild winter, might spread wilt disease to his sweet corn. Or it may involve a larger educational effort, such as a recent series of workshops (jointly offered between INHS and Purdue University) that trained 400 Master Gardeners in Illinois and Indiana about biological control methods for home garden pests so that these educators, in turn, could better present garden and landscape pest management information to the general public. Because nearly one-third of the pesticides sold in the U.S. are used in yards and home gardens, this project was an effective way of getting accurate information distributed with an eye toward reducing the indiscriminate use of pesticides.


INHS Insect Management Projects


Rootworm transmission of soybean virus
E. Levine, J. Spencer, S. Isard (UIUC), H. Hobbs (UIUC), G. Hartman (UIUC), W. Pedersen (UIUC)


Response of rootworms to plant volatiles
B. Hibbard (USDA), E. Levine, D. Duran (USDA), N. Gruenhagen (USDA), J. Spencer


Behavior and management studies of adult western corn rootworms
J. Spencer, E. Levine, S. Isard (UIUC), D. Onstad, T. Mabry (UIUC), E. Adee (UIUC), A. Anderson (UIUC), R. Hines (UIUC), L. Paul (UIUC), G. Raines (UIUC)


Biology and ecology studies of pathogens 
L. Solter, J. Maddox, K. Higgs, D. Pilarska (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), C. Vossbrinck (Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station), M. Henn (Technical University of Munich, Germany), J. Heilveil (UIUC)


 Host-parasite physiological interactions
R. Wiedenmann, M. Alleyne (UIUC)


Broccoli pest management and glucosinolate-rich crucifers 
C. Eastman, C. Velasquez (UIUC), J. Masiunas (UIUC), M. Kushad (UIUC), D. Liu (UIUC), C. Carpio (Pan American School of Agriculture, Honduras), J. Aguyoh (UIUC)


 Horseradish pest management and productivity
C. Eastman, W. Chen, UIUC cooperators


Western corn rootworm CFAR Project 
E. Levine, J. Spencer, M. Gray (UIUC), R. Nelson (UIUC), R. Hammond (Ohio State Univ.), C. Pierce (UIUC), S. Isard (UIUC)



Insecticide evaluation of field, forage, fruit, and vegetable crops
J. Shaw, M. Gray (UIUC), K. Steffey (UIUC), R. Weinzierl (UIUC), C.E. Eastman


Biological control in home gardens and landscapes
R. Wiedenmann, A. Wegeng


Influence of insecticides and crop residues from genetically modified corn on soil invertebrates, decomposition, and nutrient cycling
E. Zaborski, L. Soeken


Fungus gnats and natural enemies in greenhouse floriculture production
E. Zaborski, R. Cloyd (UIUC)


Improving forage alfalfa persistence in Illinois
E. Zaborski, E. Armbrust, G. Bollero (UIUC)


Deer ticks and Lyme disease in Illinois
J. Bouseman


Encephalitis management and prevention program
R. Novak, M. Vodkin, N. Krasavin


 West Nile virus detection project
M. Vodkin, R. Novak


Ecology and management of mosquitoes in Illinois 
H. Reno (UIUC), R. Novak, M. Vodkin, R. Lampman, D. Siegler (UIUC)


 Evaluation of soy oil and Bt in rice production
R. Novak, R. Lampman, M. Miesch (University of Arkansas)

Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820

Terms of use. Email the Web Administrator with questions or comments.

© 2020 University of Illinois Board of Trustees. All rights reserved.
For permissions information, contact the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Staff Intranet