Online IPM Modules for Master Gardeners- A New Educational Tool

Basil plant heavily infected with basil downy mildew (Picture by Bruce Watt, University of Maine,
Basil plant heavily infected with
basil downy mildew (Picture by Bruce Watt,
University of Maine,

Need to brush up on your pests to answer client garden questions?

Learn about newly emerging or persistent plant diseases and insect problems in the home landscape with the NEW University of Illinois Extension Online IPM modules. These modules are designed for Extension Master Gardeners but can be used by home gardeners and green industry professionals.

Eight Self-paced Online IPM Modules

Eight online IPM modules are currently available, covering landscape pest and problems such as:

  • Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
  • Thousand Canker Disease
  • Spruce Problems
  • Downy Mildew on Impatiens,  and more.
  • Bacterial Leaf Scorch
  • Sudden Oak Death
  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Bur Oak Blight

Module Quick-Facts

Each module is self-paced and contains information and pictures about the pest or pathogen, host plants, symptoms, diagnosis, management and much more. Here we answer a few common questions you may have:

  • Can I earn continuing ed (CE) credits for each module? Each module provides about  1/2  hour of continuing education for Illinois Master Gardeners.
  • Will the CE credit apply in my state? Check with your local coordinator to be sure these modules fulfill the educational requirements in your county and state. (As mentioned, the modules are also a great resource to answer client questions in the office.)
  • How will I get a certificate of completion? After completion of the module content, a short quiz should be completed. Participants must receive a perfect score on the quiz before completing a brief evaluation and then printing a certificate of completion.
  • Is there a charge? The course is free of charge, but participants must register and create a login and password.

The modules were written by University of Illinois plant pathologists and entomologists and more modules are currently under construction. Evaluations show that Master Gardeners value this new easy tool for completing educational hours while staying abreast of current landscape pests and pathogens.

Want to see what a module looks like? View the brown marmorated stink bug example below or directly access these Online IPM modules at

Example of IPM Online Module
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, University of Illinois IPM Module Example

– Monica David, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Coordinator

New Invasive Species Website Developed with Extension Master Gardeners in Mind

Invasive Species CoP Image- eXtension
Invasive Species CoP Image- eXtension
Invasive Species CoP Website within eXtension

We are excited to announce that the new Invasive Species Community of Practice (CoP) web page in eXtension will be officially launched on February 26th, the first day of National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW). A team of educators from land grant and sea grant universities across the nation have worked together for over a year to create this resource for Master Gardeners, County Extension Agents and staff as well as others.

Master Gardeners Surveyed to Develop New Invasive Species Resources

Our goal was to create a resource for reliable, current, and science based information on invasive species that is easily accessible and easy to use. The first thing we did was to conduct a survey of state Master Gardener Coordinators and Master Gardeners from across the U.S. 196 people participated in the survey.

We asked what type of information would be most useful to Master Gardeners. Good images ranked number one, with information pages coming in a close second. Frequently asked questions (FAQs), Ask an Expert (AaE) and invasive species mapping were also included. Although the Invasive Species CoP focus has been on invasive plant species, all types of invasive species will be included over time at the Invasive Species web page in eXtension.

Invasive Species Profiles: Combining Facts, Photos, Mapping, and More in an Easy-to-Use Resource

Invasive Species Images
Aquatic Invasive Species: Potamogeton crispus, Curlyleaf Pondweed. (Photo: Graves Lovell, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,

We also sought advice from Master Gardeners as we were creating the format for the invasive species profiles. Each species has its own profile page, includes:

  • Basic information
  • Images with descriptions
  • Where to report an infestation
  • Learning materials (such as ID cards for field use)
  • Images of native species that resemble the invasive
  • Links to information from universities across the U.S, so that relevant information for each region can be found; and more.

The format for each invasive species profile is simple and straightforward, with every profile being laid out the same way.  You can quickly scan down the profile to find the specific information you are looking for on an invasive species.

What can you do to be part of this Invasive Species CoP education effort?

Now that we’ve launched the Invasive Species CoP educational effort, we would like to ask for your help yet again. Listed below are some ways you can help. Contact me,  Karan Rawlins with information you wish to contribute about Invasive Species CoP or if you have any other questions or comments about these resources.

  1. If you have images for an invasive species or images for a native species that resembles an invasive please submit them to Bugwood Image Database.
  2. If you know of native species in your area that resembles an invasive and it is not listed please let us know so we can add them.
  3. If you know of invasive species related events, like training or management projects, please let us know so we can post them on the Invasive Species CoP calendar for everyone.
  4. If you know of additional resources we can link to, especially educational resources related to invasive species. Resources for professionals, volunteers and children are all welcome.
  5. If you have ideas on how we can make the Invasive Species CoP information better, please let us know.

Last but definitely not least, the Invasive species CoP team would like to say, “Thank You!” to all the Master Gardeners around the country whose contributions to this project have been invaluable.

by Karan Rawlins
Invasive Species Coordinator
eXtension Invasive Species CoP and
Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health
University of Georgia

Answering Minnesota Japanese Beetle Questions in 2011

Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetles

The Minnesota Master Gardener eXtension “Ask an Expert” form for submitting home gardening questions will get nearly the same questions every year,  like clockwork, depending on the month and time of the year. This year, in Minnesota, the Japanese beetle questions coming into Ask an Expert were  four times the normal amount, (2009 and 2010 we had 5 and 6 questions, respectively; and this year, 2011, we had 24 questions), continuing into late August.

Japanese Beetle Presence In Minnesota

In Japanese Beetle Q & A University of Minnesota Extension entomologist, Jeff Hahn reported that, as of 2005, Minnesota began receiving noticeably more calls and e-mails on JB. Each year the questions gradually increased and by 2009, Japanese Beetle had been found in 27 counties, primarily in the Twin Cites and the southeast and south central regions of the state.

This trend seems to continue as we’ve seen an increased amount of phone calls and Ask an Expert submissions in Minnesota this year.  In 2011 Japanese beetle questions started coming into Minnesota’s Ask an Expert from the second week of July, going into September; with most of the questions coming from the Twin Cities and it’s suburbs.

Why more questions this year?

So why the increase in Japanese beetle questions this year? Are more people noticing Japanese Beetles and asking questions from recent education efforts? Was the cold, wet spring conducive to Japanese Beetle egg and grub development this summer?

As of now, it is hard to pin point exactly why the numbers of questions have increased this year, other than the fact that we know they have continued to increase in Minnesota for several years. As Master Gardener responding to questions through Ask an Expert, we’ll continue to track the incoming questions in future years to help provide more information about Japanese Beetles in Minnesota.

Did you answer Japanese beetle hotline questions this year?

Japanese beetle ranges throughout most of Eastern and Mid-western states, extending into parts of the south, see Japanese beetles in Minnesota for more information. As an Extension Master Gardener, it would be interesting to compare geographical locations or areas to see how the incoming questions compare from hotlines, emails, and “Ask an Expert” from across the different states this year.

We welcome comments below and would enjoy input from our Extension Master Gardeners from different states –  did you have Japanese Beetle calls or other abundance pest problems this year?

Patty Citrowske – University of Minnesota Yellow Medicine County Master Gardener