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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In this mid-June episode, Matt and Erin start off by summarizing current soybean aphid activity around the state of Iowa. Populations are showing up over much of northern Iowa the last two weeks. Some fields have approached infestations ranging from 10-50%, although the density per plant remains low. Under ideal conditions, these populations could exceed the economic threshold in a few weeks. Brian Lang also found an aphid mummy, which is also early compared to most summers. Erin talked about a new publication for European corn borer that is available at the ISU Extension Bookstore. The 12-page pub reviews identification, life cycle, plant damage, scouting and treatment recommendations for this devastating pest. In their new segment, Matt talks semantics about how to spell one of the most widely recognized insects in the world. 


In this episode, Matt and Erin start off with talking about the hot weather in Ames. A local rain shower will help lawns and crops. Erin shared some updates on soybean aphid in Iowa. A few more reports are showing up from the lab as they visit various research farms. The percent infested plants is higher than in the past few years, so scouting in highly encouraged this summer. Both have noted aphids around the yard and on campus this month, too. Matt wants to try out a new segment called F.I.T. (fun insect trivia). He asked me about how the malaise trap was named and Erin was kinda right. Erin also had a F.I.T. about determining the sex of Japanese beetle. It wasn't nearly as interesting as Matt's story and maybe not even that important to know. Erin also noted Japanese beetles are emerging in southern Iowa and corn rootworm egg hatch is peaking around Iowa this week. If you live in north-central Iowa, plan to attend a field day at the ISU Northern Farm near Kanawha. 


Today, Matt and Erin cover a lot of topics. First, Erin summarizes her recent trip to Indianapolis for the 2017 North Central Branch ESA meeting. Lots of interesting papers and posters were presented this week. Also, the first confirmation of soybean aphid in Iowa happened again this week. It is typical to find aphids during early June in vegetative soybean, so listeners shouldn't be too concerned at this time. Other pest activity updates include more black cutworm and armyworm, plus a few bean leaf beetles and slugs. Matt follows up on the slug conversation by highlighting a recent interview with Penn State entomologist, John Tooker. As a follow up to the IRAC discussion a few episodes ago, Erin reminds everyone that the organization puts out a few helpful references on insecticide modes of action and resistance management. 

Two events of interest coming up:

Pollinator Fest at Reiman Gardens is on June 24. It's free this year, so bring your family for some fun hands-on activities centered around pollinators. 

Matt and Erin are organizing a field day with Greg Tylka on August 17. The event is at FEEL near Boone, IA and registration is open now


Matt and Erin took May off from podcasting, but had a lot to talk about in the third episode of season 8. The cool, wet spring resulted in delayed planting for some; however, many of their research plots went in the ground this week. There have been a number of black cutworm and true armyworm reports throughout Iowa the last two weeks. Treatment decisions are based on plant growth stage, pest density and injury. Read more about their biology and management in ICM News articles:

Armyworms in southeastern Iowa

Black cutworm monitoring for 2017

Scouting for pests in cover crops

Erin also reported common stalk borer is moving to corn and soybean, particularly in the southern counties. Fields with stalk borer injury should scout now. Also, some fields are experiencing slugs - injury is most noticeable in fields with high residue. Finally, Matt and Erin got a USDA Challenge Grant and are looking for an extension program specialist that can work with farmers, beekeepers and conservationists. Find the job description here

Grad student planting soybeans this week

Ashley Dean, new graduate student, helping plant her soybean research project at the NW Research Farm near Sutherland. Photo by Greg VanNostrand.

black cutworm

Black cutworm. Photo by Adam Sisson.


In Episode 2, Matt and Erin cover a range of topics. First, they summarize planting conditions for 2017 - most places in the state are too wet and and cold to plant. The weather also affects insect activity as well. Matt expands on a recent ICM News article by Erin regarding "green bridges." Both had students graduating this semester - congrats to Eric Clifton and Shelby Pritchard on all your hard work and efforts during your time at Iowa State! Finally, Matt updates us on the recent legislative activity to close the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.  


It's a new beginning for the podcast - Season 8 starts today! Matt and Erin have a bit of random conversation at the beginning like usual. But they eventually provide a summary of the recent new of an organophosphate, chlorpyrifos. The EPA has been dealing with a petition to revoke tolerances for this widely-used insecticide. The EPA will not move forward with restricting chlorpyrifos in any crop; this could be important as farmers make product choices for 2017. Erin wrote a recent ICM Blog about it. Matt shared updates about his recent travels to the S1055 Soybean Entomology Working Group meeting in Memphis where he compares soybean production in the North Central Region to the South. Surprise - it's a lot different! Erin wraps up by providing overwintering mortality predictions for bean leaf beetle. The 2016-2017 winter was moderate and about half of the beetles are expected to survive. Read more in her recent ICM News article

Bean leaf beetle

Bean leaf beetle adult. Photo by Winston Beck, ISU. 


In the last episode of season 7, Matt and Erin talk about two new insecticide options for soybean aphid in Iowa. Movento and Sivanto by Bayer CropSciences are products that target fluid-feeding pests, like aphids, and are considered reduced-risk options compared to broad spectrum insecticides. Movento is a Group 23 and Sivanto is a Group 4D. To learn more about these insecticide groups, visit the IRAC website.


It's unusually warm this February episode. Like Bugs Bunny cartoon said - Gosh, it's hot! Matt and Erin talk about accumulating degree days for the state so far in 2017. Northern counties have accumulated between 16-22 degree days, while southern counties have accumulated 50-53 degree days. Erin uses the ISU Agronomy Mesonet to estimate temperatures. Matt also shared that the Toth Lab is noticed honey bee foraging already this year. There may not be much to feed on right now, which is concerning to beekeepers. Matt also shared some information on pyramided host plant resistance options for farmers in Iowa. Finally, Erin encouraged new agronomists to attend the Crop Scout School in Ames on March 25. 



Matt's a bit under the weather in this episode, but that won't stop his awesome commentary (see connection to Michael Jordan here)! Today, Matt and Erin talk about a new research development with soybean aphid. The entire genome was recently sequenced; see journal paper here). This is only the fourth aphid genome to be sequenced so far. Colleagues, Drs. Brad Coates and Andy Michael, helped generate data for this journal article. Matt explains the reasoning for sequencing the genome of pest species like soybean aphid. Once we have a better understanding of the genetic makeup of a pest, we can try to disrupt it and make them less successful. Then, Erin shares some recent questions coming to her from around Iowa - particularly if snow cover can help insects survive the winter. 


In this episode, Matt and Erin talk about managing twospotted spider mites in soybean. Considering other pests is important, given the non-target effects with an application. This is particularly true if soybean aphid is in the field because of recent reports of pyrethroid resistance. They discuss options, including using miticides to suppress mite populations. Implications of pest ecology and economics plays a part in managing soybean pests. 

Twospotted spider mite

Twospotted spider mites. Photo by Frank Peairs;


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