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Soybean Pest Podcast

Soybean Research Podcast

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.


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 mites. Photo by Frank Peairs;

It's the first podcasting episode of 2017! Matt and Erin talk briefly about a few topics related to insecticides today. First, Erin recaps the findings of her insecticide resistance project from 2016. A field sprayed twice with a pyrethroid (bifenthrin) did not have efficacy against soybean aphid. She conducted an assay and discovered elevated resistance ratios for bifenthrin and lambda-cyhalothrin. Distinguishing insecticide group will become important for future growing seasons so farmers can prolong the efficacy of pyrethroids and organophosphates. Learn more about insecticide groups and resistance management at the IRAC website. Matt shared updates on pending EPA approvals of existing insecticides.

Matt and Erin wrap up a few loose ends before the holiday week. First, Matt shares DowAgroSciences sulfoxaflor insecticide got a renewed registration. This insecticide targets fluid-feeding insects and was an option for soybean aphid before it was canceled in 2015. Now, sulfoxaflor can be used in a number of crops, but not for corn or soybean; cotton and sorghum have emergency labels in some U.S. states. Over the weekend, a soybean aphid Biotype-2 colony died due to a bad compressor in a growth chamber. Aphids don't tend to do well in temperatures over 100 degrees, and these ladies got cooked. Our labs host all four soybean aphid biotypes plus a few other aphid colonies. Colony management is really important and the maintenance is ongoing to keep plants and aphids healthy.

In this episode, Matt and Erin interview the 2016 Gunderson Memorial Seminar speaker, Dr. Ric Bessin. Ric is a professor and extension entomologist at the University of Kentucky. His areas of extension and research interests range from row crops to specialty crops, and has a focus on IPM.  Their conversation starts off talking about agriculture in Kentucky compared to Iowa.

He also shares observations about early season pests, like wireworms, and moves to brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive species causing havoc in Kentucky. Ric was also a Peace Corps volunteer before graduate school, and where he spent time beekeeping. He shares an interesting story about using bees to help with pain management. 

Due to technical difficulty, this is a second take at the podcast today. Matt and Erin start by sharing highlights from the recent International Congress of Entomology (ICE) meeting in Orlando last week. Erin talks about pest resistance issues for corn rootworm and western bean cutworm. Matt summarizes some work on rapid resistance development in agro-ecology systems. Fall nuisance invaders were also briefly discussed, including minute pirate bugs, boxelder bugs and lady beetles. Matt got excited by a recent aphid find on ISU campus this week - aphids and parasitized aphids were on collected from buckthorn. They don't understand the implications for these finds yet, but it is certainly not a common find. Lastly, Matt and Erin are speaking at the upcoming ICM Conference in Ames. Registration details will be posted soon. 

Today, Matt and Erin talk about noteworthy news items related to field crop pest management. But first, they talk about upcoming meetings they plan to attend. Both are attending the ICE (International Congress of Entomology) meeting in Orlando next week. And both plan on speaking at the annual ISU Integrated Crop Management Conference in Ames (Nov 29 - Dec 1). Erin will talk about a management plan for soybean aphid, particularly with suspected pyrethroid resistance in Iowa. Matt plans to talk about pollinators in field crops. In Minnesota, the governor proposes restrictions on neonicotinoids in agriculture and the implications for that are largely not understood. Also, the recent merger discussions between Bayer Crop Science and Monsanto also could change the ag industry in the U.S. and around the world. 

[Apologies for the poor sound quality of Erin's microphone]

The podcast took a break while Matt was on vacation and Erin was on the extension circuit. But they're back and talking about recent pest activity in Iowa. First, Erin shares updates about treating for soybean aphid in northern Iowa. Populations were erratic, as usual, and some fields exceeded threshold in early- to mid-August. A few people noticed poor performance of bifenthrin, a pyrethroid, for soybean aphid. This isn't a huge surprise, given there are pyrethroid-resistant populations in southwestern and southcentral Minnesota in 2015 and 2016. It is important to assess insecticide efficacy and determine potential issues with soybean aphid. In general, soybean are approaching mid- to full seed set throughout Iowa and yield responses are not consistent when applied after full seed set. 

This podcast episode focuses on a few recent pest updates, like soybean aphid, twospotted spider mites, and a mix of defoliators. Matt talks about spider mite activity in some of his research plots and also in fields near Brookings, SD. Erin notes soybean aphid activity is down throughout Iowa and they both revisit the economic threshold for this common pest. To read more information about why the economic threshold for soybean aphid remains consistently at 250 per plant, read this webpage co-authored by many university entomologists. Finally, Matt shares a research update on the release of parasitic wasps that like to feed on soybean aphid. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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. Learn more and register here: 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.