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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Calm before the (or a) storm?

Soybean Pest Podcast

It's a low-key episode that features new intro and outro-music and a new pest noted in our round up (grasshoppers).

Erin's had a long week talking about corn rootworms. We recap the current insect species occuring in soybean fields (grasshoppers, Japanese beetles, soybean aphids, a mix of caterpillars). Some pests are no longer present on the plants as the second generation is developing as immature stages in the soil. These are gall midges and bean leaf beetles. Matt tries to bring her spirits up with two trivia question. The first is a bit silly, noting the music videos on youtube that have been viewed over one billion times. The second question is a FIT that Erin gets immediately. Erin's on a roll.

see you next week, and as always, consider scouting your fields.



Don't drought this episode was a good one. Matt shares an update on the Iowa drought and encourages people to use the U.S. Drought Monitor as a tool to measure landscape moisture levels. Matt and Erin transition and talk about pest activity around the state, starting with twospotted spider mite. Erin wrote a recent ICM News article that talks about scouting and managing this pest that favors hot and dry conditions. Spider mites can be first detected around field perimeters and then eventually infest the field interior. Discoloration, webbing and stunted plants are often the result of heavy spider mite feeding. Erin mentioned a new miticide, AgriMek, that has promise for suppressing mites in corn and soybean; find the label here. The conversation switched gears to talk about some corn silk clipping pests, like Japanese beetle and corn rootworm adults. Scouting to determine pest densities and potential interference with pollination is important. Learn more about Japanese beetle ID, scouting and management with an ICM News article

twospotted spider mite

Twospotted spider mite. Photo by Frank Peairs,

bean leaf beetle

Bean leaf beetle. Photo by Marlin Rice. 



Today, Erin is so excited to tell everyone about her new, 12-page publication called, "Getting to Know the Insects." This publication is geared to youth and new agronomists that want to learn more about how to identify, sample and management field crop insects. It's available for $2 in the ISU Extension Store. Next, Matt and Erin talk about corn and soybean switching to reproductive stages around Iowa and implications for pest scouting and management. In particular, hot and dry weather favors twospotted spider mites, but expected cooler temperatures can promote soybean aphid populations. Erin also mentions a rare pest, redheaded flea beetle, showing up in a cornfield this summer. Read Erin's blog to see feeding injury on corn leaves. Erin also mentioned some upcoming field days at the ISU FEEL demo lab located between Boone and Ames, Iowa. The first is the Crop Management Clinic (13-14 July), which features a number of different topics related to crop production and protection. The second is an all-day workshop on corn insects (29 July). We aren't sure why, but there are a lot of references to MMA fighters in this episode??

redheaded flea beetle on soybean

Redheaded flea beetle on soybean. Photo by Lewis Veith.


Today, Matt and Erin talk about current pest activity in Iowa. Specifically, the last week was very hot (>90 degrees) and that isn't conducive for soybean aphid growth. So no new detection since the last podcast (but not surprised because aphids don't do well under consistently hot temps). Also, some alfalfa farmers are starting to see potato leafhopper injury. Matt heard about early twospotted spider mite injury in Illinois and that is a concern for extended hot and dry periods. Southeastern Iowa is abnormally dry right now and so be looking for initial spider mite infested along edge rows. Mite injury should not be confused with herbicide injury that is also starting to show up in some soybean fields. Finally, Erin and Matt talk about Pollinator Fest displays at Reiman Gardens. Erin will have the kids make Wikki Stik insects and Matt has prepared a honey tasting station.  

potato leafhopperpotato leafhopper burn

Potato leafhopper (Photo by Marlin Rice) and classic "hopper burn" (Photo by Purdue Extension). To learn more about potato leafhopper, read this ICM News article.

twospotted spider mitetwospotted spider mite injury

Twospotted spider mite (Photo by Frank Peairs) and spider mite injury (Photo by Whitney Cranshaw). To learn more about scouting for twospotted spider mite, read this ICM News article

mantid art project

Wikki Stik insect art for Pollinator Fest (Photo by Erin Hodgson). 


Today, Matt and Erin have so much to talk about in this episode. The multiple phone calls and people stopping by Erin's office can't stop the podcast. Lab members found a few soybean aphids in central and northeast Iowa. This is not too surprising because a few soybean aphids can usually be found in June. Populations are very low, but something to note as the field season continues.

soybean aphid

The first soybean aphids of the year were found in northeastern Iowa. Photo by Greg VanNostrand. 

The warm winter was helpful to those insects trying to overwinter in Iowa, particularly for bean leaf beetle. For the other crop in Iowa, corn rootworm egg hatch is peaking, stalk borers are moving to corn, and European corn borer egg hatch is also happening now. Then the conversation turned to millipedes - not a typical field crop pest. They talk about field conditions conducive to millipede injury, in addition to other emerging pests like slugs, snails and isopods. Finally, Matt reminded us Pollinator Fest is coming up at Reiman Gardens in Ames on June 25. 

Random fact: Millipedes are arthropods within the class Diplopoda. They are distant relatives to insects and arachnids. People who study millipedes are called diplopodologists. 


Millipede. Photo by David Cappaert,


Today, Matt and Erin are in Cleveland, OH for the 2016 Annual North Central Branch Meeting of the ESA (Entomological Society of America). They have a conversation with special guest, David Gammel, Executive Director of ESA since 2011. They learn more about David's "origin story" and how he got connected with the ESA. He also shares some of the most exciting things happening with the organization, including new Policy Fellows, a fun blog, and the upcoming international meeting. The Policy Fellows program will support and develop scientists as visible and effective advocates for entomology and entomological research. The Entomology Today Blog helps translate insect-related news to a wide audience; recent articles include topics like a Zika symposium, emerald ash borer control, and tick-borne diseases. They also talk about our upcoming ICE (International Congress of Entomology) Meeting in Orlando this September. In addition to a lot of scientific content with over 6,000 expected participants, there will be informal chances to learn more about insects. 

Cleveland, OH


As the tagline for the new movie, Popstar, says: Never Stop Never Stopping!

Today, Erin gives a short note to announce the new podcasting widget. It will be located on their Soybean Entomology Lab website, where other resources are available. You can still subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, Stitcher or Pocket Casts. Thanks for listening! 


In this episode, Matt and Erin talk about upcoming events, pest activity updates and research projects. Erin is organizing a Corn Insects Workshop on July 29. There is a 50-person cap, so register now if you want a space! Erin had several reports of pea aphid in alfalfa, but most farmers decided to cut instead of spray. Learn how to identify aphids in alfalfa here: Erin also saw a few aphid mummies in clover and they both experienced honeydew dripping from a tree on campus this week. Matt talked a bit about planting conditions for his wasp and bee projects, noting compaction and crusting in some commercial soybean fields. 


Bad weather and superstition won't keep Matt and Erin from podcasting today. Erin shares current planting progress for Iowa (80% corn and 30% soybean) according to NASS and also talks about black cutworm injury in seedlings. Early-season clinics are starting up next week at FEEL, where she will help new agronomists learn about scouting for seedling pests. Finally, they talk about potentially podcasting on the road for the north central branch meeting in Cleveland next month.


Soybeans are going into the ground, and Matt and Erin have started a new podcasting season. They talk about early-season soybean pests, like black cutworm and bean leaf beetle, and the likelihood of seeing injury this year. Read more about the predicted cutting date for black cutworm here: They also spend some time highlighting some new people and research projects going on this summer. Finally, Matt talks about a recent publication that looks at the probability of breaking even with different inputs. 


To start this podcast, Erin recaps current growing degree days in Iowa for 2016 and how they are really different than in 2014. Visit her blog post to see some cool graphs: Matt recently attended a soybean entomology working group meeting and recapped some of the highlights. Specifically, he talked about pesticide use comparisons around the U.S. and the possible introduction of Bt soybean in the U.S. market. 


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