Skip to main content

Entomology and Nematology Department

Entomology and Nematology Department

Dr. Oscar E. Liburd

Professor and Program Leader
Fruit and Vegetable Entomology

Dr. Liburd is developing environmentally sound insect pest management programs in fruit and vegetable systems for Florida and the southeastern US. Applied and basic research is performed in organic and conventional systems including blueberries, strawberries grapes, blackberries, cucurbits and cole crops. Areas of expertise include management of thrips, midges, mites, whiteflies, aphids, scale insects, flea beetles, mealybugs, lepidopteran pests and fruit flies. Dissemination of research-based information to state and county extension faculty, commodity groups, growers, various levels of government, and private-industries occurs through innovative educational programs comprised of grower meetings, workshops, in-service training sessions, newsletters, and via the internet. The laboratory also develops and updates educational materials, and pest management recommendations targeting growers, agribusiness, and crop consultants. The international research and extension activities are focused on pesticide safety, resistance management and implementation of bio-rational strategies in Africa and the Caribbean region.

  • Research

    Small fruit and vegetable pest management with emphasis on blueberry pests

    Blueberries provide an option for growers to diversify from citrus into other crops, as well as economic opportunities in areas where citrus cannot be grown, particularly in North Central Florida.  The Florida blueberry industry is at approximately $80 million. The development of the early ripening southern highbush blueberry cultivars has created a niche for growers in Florida who can produce high quality berries as early as late March when prices are extremely high and other key blueberry producing states cannot compete for market shares. However, further growth and development of the blueberry industry in Florida is limited due to the high incidence of insect pests including spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura) flower thrips, Frankliniella spp. and blueberry gall midge, Dasineura oxycoccana (Johnson).  The focus of the research is to develop and refine management programs for the most important insect pests that are causing economic damage in blueberries. Current research is focused on developing detection (monitoring) techniques, studying the movement of pests from wild hosts and adjacent habitats into cultivated areas, determining economic threshold levels and identifying reduced-risk tools (insecticides) that can be used in an IPM program for these key pests.  

    Strawberry is the most important small fruit crop in Florida and the industry is valued more than 380 million dollars. Our strawberry pest management program has focused on twospotted spider mite management in conventional systems and developing tools for organic strawberry production.  Our research has focused on site specific mite management (spot spraying) for twospotted mites and developing technology to management mite populations in hot spot areas versus whole field management. We have also been investigating predatory mite movement and potential for biological control of twospotted spider mites.  

    Vegetable pest management: Cucurbits (melons and squash) are major vegetable crops grown in Florida with a farm gate value in excess of $300 million annually. It is estimated that hemipteran pests (sucking insects) mainly aphids and whiteflies, spread over 90% of the insect-borne diseases in cucurbits. The primary goal of the vegetable program is to investigate more sustainable (cultural) approaches for managing whiteflies and aphids in cucurbits. We have made significant progress in developing cultural tactics for managing key vegetable pests and in identifying diseases that are spread by hemipteran pests. 

  • Teaching

    The primary course that I teach is ‘Field Techniques in Integrated Pest Management’, PMA 6228 / PMA 4570. In this course my goals are to teach students basic concepts in IPM and provide practical training on how IPM practices and concepts can be implemented into a production system. It is my belief that the student who is educated and understands the benefits of using IPM in a production system will in turn initiate programs and encourage other individuals to practice IPM techniques. This will further the advancement of environmentally friendly pest management programs.

    Styles and Methods

    One approach to teaching is to bring real experiences and real problems into the classroom. This can be motivational and provides an opportunity to show students the importance of the material they are learning and how this information can be applied to the many aspects of their lives. Recognition and responding to different learning styles requires careful and strategic planning. My approach is to prepare and deliver information using several techniques that include lecturing, guest speakers, audio-visuals, laboratory experiments, field visits for sampling exercises and use of method analysis techniques. The idea is that I address a variety of learning styles that range from auditory to visual. I strive to adjust my teaching style to the students rather than expecting my students to adapt to my teaching methods.

  • Extension

    IPM in Fruit and Vegetable Crops with major emphasis on blueberry pests

    Our extension program provides pest management information to industry groups, growers, crop consultants and marketing representatives. We provide information on various small fruit crops including blueberry, strawberry, grape and blackberry. We also extend pest management information to organic growers. Currently, we conduct evaluations of registered and unregistered (new) insecticides and acaricides to determine the performance of these compounds on many agricultural crops (fruits and vegetables) and share this information with industry representatives.

Dr. Oscar E. Liburd


Steinmetz Hall, Room 2102
1881 Natural Area Dr.
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 273-3918

  • Small Fruits and Vegetable IPM Laboratory:
  • Education
    • Ph.D., Entomology, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, 1997
    • M.S., Entomology, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL, 1993
    • B.S., Entomology, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL, 1991
  • EDIS Publications
  • Google Scholar Publications
  • Recent Services and Honors

    2015 High Impact Research Publication. Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

    2013 Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology. Southeastern Branch, Entomological Society of America. Baton Rouge, LA.

    2008 Excellence in Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Southeastern Branch, Entomological Society of America

    2008 Entomologist of the Year. Annual meeting of the Florida Entomological Society, July 13-16. Jupiter, Florida

    2008 Jim App Team Extension Award.University of Florida, IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL

    2007 Achievement Award for Research. Annual Meeting of the Florida Entomological Society, July 16-19. Sarasota, Florida.

  • Programs

    Extension: 25%, Agricultural IPM

    Research: 60%

    Teaching: 15%