Soybean Pest Podcast

by Matt O'Neal and Erin Hodgson

Erin HodgsonMatt O'Neal

Drs. Matt O’Neal and Erin Hodgson created a podcast to promote IPM concepts, like identification, sampling, economic thresholds, and insecticide efficacy. They also talk about updates on invasive pests and regulatory news, and translate new research relative to insects in agriculture.

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A week of firsts (pest sightings)!

Soybean Pest Podcast

Erin and Matt recap a week that saw several firsts for 2022.

Soybean aphids were first sighted, so too were thistle caterpillars, and Japanese beetles.  We are obligated to encourage you to scout for these pests, as the season goes on. Thier first appearance is not a cause for alarm, just a reminder that these potential pests may cause trouble later in the season.

If you value updates about pests, consider signing up for pest-alerts:

After summarizing 5 different pests (soybean aphids, Japanese beetles, Thistle caterpillars, gall midge, Armyworms), Matt introduces 2022's first Fun Insect Trivia question.

For more about the topic of the F.I.T., visit these websites:


Despite a slow start to planting, some insects are starting to respond to emerging soybeans.

In this episode Erin and Matt kick off the 13th season on the 13th of June with a brief discussion of the spiders on Stranger Things before getting into soybean pest activity. Erin reviews predictions about bean leaf beetle winter mortality and subsequent activity on spring emerging soybeans.  Erin also reviews her groups work tracking several lepidopteran pests (that’s a bunch of moth species that feed as caterpillars on corn and soybeans).  Matt notes that it’s not just soybeans that these hungry beetles are feeding on.

For more details about the overwintering survival of bean leaf beetles-

Erin and her technician Ashley Dean have developed a pest alert system. Visit this website for more details-

If you are looking for an interesting event about pollinators, visit ISU’s Pollinator Fest on 25 June at Rieman Gardens, just south of the Jack Trice stadium.


Erin and Matt welcome Ashley Dean to the podcast to talk about her work tracking and trapping insect pests of corn and soybeans in Iowa, and the breaking news that the EPA has banned chlorpyrifos.

Ashley gives us an update on the low populations of soybean aphids, occurrences of spider mites and grasshoppers, and the slow spread of soybean gall midge into the more central part of Iowa.  She also shares her work on trapping corn rootworms and the discovery of a red western corn rootworm. We geek-out a bit about that one.

We discuss the recent announcement that the EPA is reducing the tolerances for chlorpyrifos to zero for all foods.  This is a bigger deal than the announcement just over a year ago that Corteva would stop producing chlorpyrifos. Ashley Dean wrote an article about that decision:

We discuss how the removal of chlorpyrifos will reduce the number of insecticides with different modes of action that corn and soybean farmers can use.  For details about modes of action, visit this website:

There are insecticides that can replace chlorpryifos, but they are more expensive.  For soybean aphids, there are also aphid-resistant varieties. Ashley wrote an article about the economic factors related to pest management and soybean production. She developed partial budgets for this article that goes into great detail about the costs of different approaches for managing the soybean aphid:


We got some rain in central Iowa , but it is still hot and dry. This is important for the pest that is the subject of today's Fun Insect Trivia (FIT). IN addition to that pest, Erin and I discuss the insect pests that are persisting into August.

Erin runs down the list of insects that are active in corn and soybean fields- rootworms, Japanese beetles, gall midges and soybean aphids.

Although rootworms are active and surprising some farmers in their abundance, Japanese beetles are appearing to be limited to field edges. Gall midges were found in western Iowa, but aphids are low to non-existent. 

Our last pest is the topic of todays FIT. Matt asks Erin a series of questions that include the pictures below, which are leaves damaged by this pest.  See if you can match Erins knowledge on this pest.


We also discuss the upcoming fair season- check out Erin in the beer tent on August 14-15.

We also discuss the latest edition of the Tenderloin trail.

Matt was also interviewed about the STRIPS project, including a discussion about the impact of CP43 for pollinator conservation:



Erin's back.

ON this episode we talk soybean aphids (so few), soybean gall midge (they are active agian), redheaded flea beetle (not really a pest, but common in some parts of Iowa) and on ogoing research.

Erin shares with us a might haul of articles she just published in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management. Check this links for her work on some key pests, including one on the soybean gall midge (is it new to science? read and find out).

1.Identification and Biology of Common Caterpillars in U.S. Soybean

2.Soybean Gall Midge (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae), a New Species Causing Injury to Soybean in the United States

3.Current Distribution and Population Persistence of Five Lepidopteran Pests in U.S. Soybean

4.Needs Assessment for Corn Insect Pest Management in Iowa


Finally, we discuss the FIT from last week. Check out the photo and hear Erin nail it!

Read more about the insect that was the topic of this FIT here:


This half pod is just Matt giving a few updates, a "thank you" to the Iowa Honey Producers Association and preparation for a Fun Insect Trivia (FIT) question for next week.

Erin is out in the field today. She and I will return next week, Tuesday, to discuss what she is seeing in the field and the answer to the FIT.

In the meantime, Matt wraps up the week of 12-16 July. One big observation is the occurence of soybean aphids at really low populations. One encouraging sign is the co-occurence of insect predators and mummies. The mummies are evidence that aphids have been parasitized by wasps.  Combined, these predators and parasitoid wasps may prevent outbreaks later in the summer.

Matt gives a big thank you to the Iowa Honey Producers Association for the invite to speak at their field day last weekend. Ebert honey was the host, providing a great location to share our research on prairie strips.  The beekeepers were excited to learn more about this practice and how these patches could help improve honey bee productivity.

Finally- Note the blurry picture below.  This picture was taken by a colleague working at a central Iowa research farm. Next week, I'll ask Erin what she thinks it is and what impact, if any, it could have on crops in Iowa.

(Matt failed to add it in the original submission. Its added below.)


In todays episode, Erin shares her experience seeing RNAi-based techonology for rootworm management in action.  She was not impressed. Erin describes her rootworm trapping network as the adult rootworms start to emerge. If you would like to participate, contact Erin's colleague, Ashley Dean at

We talk about other insects including soybean gall midge, leafhoppers, flea beetles, and eventually soybean aphids.

Matt offers up a Fun (?) Insect Trivia question. After listening read this for more detials:

Matt is talking at the Iowa Honey Producers Association on 10 July. Check this for more details:

See you next week.


The 4th of July weekend delayed Matt posting this podcast.

We talk about pests: corn rootworms, japanese beetles, and soybean aphdis. The dry weather is making people worried about two-spotted spider mites, so we talk a bit about that.

Matt gives shares a "Fun (?) Insect Trivia" question about the conservation reserve practice described as "Pollinator Habitat" or CP42.  Some new analysis of where CP42 is located in Iowa is the source of this question.

We talk a bit about how and where this conservation practice is placed in Iowa farm land.

For more information about CP42, visit



Erin and Matt make it back for a second episode. There is a lot of soybean aphid talk in this episode, maybe, maybe too much talk. For a summary of some of that talk, check out this link (

If you get through the first 15 minutes and are still awake there is another 12 minutes about the following:

  • Pea aphids on alfalfa in northern Iowa, may be insecticide resistant.
  • Japanese beetle adults have emerged, look to them feeding on corn and soybean. Erin notes that the defoliation on younger soybeans is not 'more bad' than defoliation on older soybeans, it just looks worse because the beans are so small.
  • Outside of crop pests, Erin shares a finding of 'kissing bugs' in Nebraska. This is a vector of Chagas disease, which can be lethal.
  • Matt gives Erin a FIT that involves this picture (what is the insect, listen to the podcast to find out).

  • Erin is doing field days throughout the northern part of the state and at FEEL in central Iowa. Check her twitter account for details.
  • Matt and many others are sharing their interests, research some swag at the Pollinator Fest at Reiman gardens:

Season 12 of the soybean pest podcast starts off with a bang, a hot, dry bang.  The midwestern drought is affecting all of us, even the 6-legged.

Check the UNL drought monitor for the current status (hint, its bleak:

We talk spider mites, cause its hot and dry.

Erin discusses the remarkable pests outbreaks occurring in alfalfa, exacerbated by a mild winter and hot, dry spring.

Matt turns our attention to Japanese beetles (JB), and the duo speculate about the impact weather has on their abundance. Erin notes a trend of JB larvae in the interior of cropfields, not just the edges. (

Erin notes the first appearance of soybean gall midges in northeaster Iowa. Matt notes some progress in detecting insecticide resistant aphids.

Rootworms are also discussed as we note egg hatch, signaled with the appearance of lightening bugs.

Finally, Erin takes might to school with reports of the Hackberry emperor. Its a pretty butterfly, definitely not a thistle caterpillar and notorious for being a cheater (

To wrap up- Erin gives updates on her live events and we note the 26 June is pollinator fest at Reiman gardens (

Also, did we mention its hot and dry?

Stay tuned for weekly updates now that the field season is in full gear.


Erin reports back from a Extension meeting on the impact of the Derecho on agriculture in Iowa.  More details and help in recovering from the Derecho can be found here:

Matt tries to get our minds off of the Derecho, drought and rising soybean aphid populations with a Fun (?) Insect Trivia question.

Stay safe.



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