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Kevin L. Steffey Kevin L. Steffey
Professor and Extension
Entomology Specialist
Department of Crop Sciences
(217) 333-6652
Ron Estes Ron Estes, Coordinator
Illinois Insect Management Program
Department of Crop Sciences
(217) 649-0627

New Strategies for Managing Soybean Aphids and Other Insect Pests of Soybeans

From the 1960s until 2000, insects were not much of a threat to soybean production in Illinois. There were exceptions-the spider mite outbreak in 1988, and the occasional outbreaks of bean leaf beetles and other, more minor pests. However, for at least four decades, soybean growers did not have to anticipate persistent insect pest problems. The situation changed late in 2000 when soybean aphids were discovered in the upper Midwest, including northern Illinois. Since then, soybean aphids have caused economic losses or added production costs in two of the past four years (2001 and 2003). The occasional threat of bean leaf beetles (with the potential to infect soybeans with the bean pod mottle virus), the recurring threat from infestations of Japanese beetles, and the threat of spider mites during hot, dry years are forcing rowers to consider adding expenditures for insect management to their annual production costs.

In only four years, many research efforts have contributed pieces to the puzzle of soybean aphid management: (1) a working, dynamic economic threshold and more efficient scouting techniques (e.g., transect sampling, speed scouting) have been developed; (2) simulation models have been created; (3) insecticides have been tested; (4) yield impact has been determined; (5) resistant varieties are being developed. In addition, the registration of seed-applied insecticides for soybeans (e.g., clothianidin, thiamethoxam) has provided growers with a pest management tool that is purported to reduce the impact of early-season insect infestations. Finally, the changes in crop-production practices (e.g., no-till soybeans, weed-control strategies) over the past couple of decades may also have had an impact on insect management considerations.

The current insect situation in soybeans in 2005 will be reviewed, followed by discussion of results from research efforts in 2004 and an explanation of research efforts in 2005. Topics will include efficacy of seed-applied insecticides, impact of insecticides and fungicides on soybean yield, and the impact of soybean aphids and twospotted spider mites on soybean production.

Japanese Beetle Feeding Soybean Aphids Spider Mite Injury
Japanese Beetle Feeding on Soybean Flower (Photo From Ron Hines, U. of I.) Soybean Aphids on Stem and Petiole (Photo From Marlin Rice, Iowa State University) Spider Mite Injury In No-till Soybeans Champaign County, 2005
Department of Crop Sciences
College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois Extension
Copyright © 2005 University of Illinois
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