Vegetable Entomology

Program Leader: Dr. Ana Legrand, Assistant Extension Professor

Brassica Pest Collaborative

The Brassica Pest Collaborative continued its work by organizing a number of educational activities. These activities were mostly online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Research activity continued when it was possible to restart campus activities.

Potato Leafhopper Monitoring & Remote Sensing Project

Dr. Legrand’s lab focused on the development of a remote sensing system for monitoring potato leafhopper (PLH) damage to green beans. This project is done in collaboration with Dr. Witharana from the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment at UConn. PLH is a significant pest in several horticultural systems and this work has the potential to benefit multiple commodities through early detection of the insect with minimal labor inputs by growers. Mr. Bivek Bhusal, master’s level student in the lab, was able to do field work and greenhouse experiments for this project. He completed evaluations of bean plant responses to PLH feeding correlating them to leaf reflectance measurements. The information collected will guide the design of bean canopy reflectance analysis from imagery captured using a drone equipped with a spectral sensor. The ultimate goal is to detect PLH feeding quickly from field images taken by a drone.

Potato leafhopper on green beans.

Potato leafhopper on green beans.
Photo: Ana Legrand

Drone practice flight and potato leafhopper experiment cages on beans planted at UConn Plant Science Research Farm.

Drone practice flight and potato leafhopper experiment cages on beans planted at UConn Plant Science Research Farm.
Photos: Chandi Witharana and Bivek Bhusal.

Asiatic Garden Beetle Plant Preferences

In addition to PLH research, lab members studied other insect pests such as the Asiatic garden beetle (AGB). Ms. Kaelin Smith, Sustainable Plant and Soils Systems major, was able to complete her research season evaluating AGB feeding preferences on basil cultivars and selected ornamental plants. AGB is a scarab beetle that can totally defoliate preferred host plants and is a common problem for Connecticut residents and growers.

Lastly, Dr. Legrand began work on a new lab website to disseminate information from the entomology research done by lab members. Mr. Ryan Morais, UConn Extension Summer intern, greatly advanced the work on the website design and development.

Asiatic garden beetle

Asiatic garden beetle.
Photo: Ana Legrand

basil plants

Basil plants grown for Asiatic garden beetle feeding preference experiments.
Photo: Kaelin Smith.