Today, Matt is back from vacation and talks with Erin about the latest insect activity in Iowa. Soybean aphids can be found in northern Iowa, but at very low numbers. Japanese beetles are feeding in corn and soybean in central counties, and a mixture of caterpillars are feeding in soybean.
Today, Matt and Erin talk about EPA's review of a popular neonic called imidacloprid. This and other active neonic ingredients have been blamed for declines in honey bee health. They share their thoughts on implications for cancellation, bee health and non-target insects.
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.
Today, Matt and Erin take a major detour and talk about an art exhibit that features fantasy coffins. Matt visited with Eric Anang, an artist-in-residence at the University of Iowa. Erik's family is from Ghana and they have a tradition of building fantasy coffins designed to reflect unique personalities. He recently was interested in the decline of insects, particularly lightening bugs, in his native area and that sparked the idea for this exhibit. You can see the exhibit at the Blackbox Memorial Theater at U of I now and can hear Matt give a seminar on October 26.
We are exploring how small patches of native, perennial vegetation (i.e., prairie) can increase the abundance and diversity of pollinators within corn and soybean. We observed honey bee colonies in Iowa lose weight beginning in August, when clover and soybean cease blooming. When colonies had access to a prairie from August to October, they were buffered from this late season decline. Read more about Using prairies to reduce interacting stressors on pollinator health