Two-spotted Spider Mite IPM for Urban Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2019: $20,836.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2021
Grant Recipient: Cornell University
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Samuel Anderson
Cornell Cooperative Extension, Harvest NY


  • Vegetables: beans, cucurbits, eggplant, tomatoes


  • Crop Production: cropping systems
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, technical assistance, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management
  • Sustainable Communities: urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    This project would be one of the first to directly address twospotted spider mite as a pest of particular importance for urban agriculture. New York City is home to at least 30 commercial urban vegetable farms. While these operations grow a diverse range of crops, tomatoes are commonly treated as the most important revenue generator, commanding the most labor and expense. Twospotted spider mite (TSSM) has emerged as a common and costly pest of tomatoes in NYC urban agriculture, thriving in hot rooftop temperatures and in the absence of natural enemies; conditions which may be exacerbated in NYC and other cities by the urban heat island effect and limited habitats for beneficial arthropods.

    This project will develop a scouting protocol and trial and demonstrate the use of biocontrols to manage TSSM in urban agriculture. Habitat plantings will be installed at three sites to recruit and maintain natural enemies. A TSSM scouting program will be developed and implemented at three urban farms, using bush beans in tomato rows as indicator plants. Beneficial arthropods Neoseiulus fallacis and Feltiella acarisuga will be released and their presence tracked through each of two seasons, and Phytoseiulus persimilis will be released as needed in response to TSSM counts on indicator plants. TSSM counts and damage to the crop and indicator plants will be tracked throughout the season. The combined data will provide insight into the effectiveness of TSSM biocontrols in urban agriculture and the ability of beneficial arthropods to persist in urban agricultural ecosystems.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to develop and demonstrate best practices for controlling TSSM on NYC urban farms through release and recruitment of natural enemies. It also seeks to enhance skills and knowledge among urban farmers related to scouting and pest management, and to deepen urban farmers’ understanding of natural enemies’ role in controlling TSSM and other pest populations.

    By tracking TSSM and natural enemy populations on urban farms, we aim to contribute to a presently limited body of knowledge related to TSSM as an urban agriculture pest of importance; the effectiveness of biocontrols in managing TSSM on field tomatoes in urban environments; and the ability of urban agroecosystems to recruit and maintain populations of beneficial arthropods, including the ability of Feltiella and N. fallacis to persist throughout a growing season and to overwinter when provided habitat options for those express purposes.

    If successful, this project will benefit farmers by developing an effective IPM strategy for management of TSSM in urban agriculture, including readily adopted protocols for scouting, incorporating an “early warning” system with indicator plants, and release, recruitment, and maintenance of natural enemy populations. Farmers will also benefit from increased knowledge of IPM principles applied to urban agriculture.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.