Register by July 28 for field day on biological control of soybean aphid

UW-Madison entomologists are presenting a field day on August 5 to talk about progress to date on using parasitic wasps to control soybean aphids. Registration deadline for the event is July 28. Registrations will be limited to 40 participants. More information is included in the following UW-Extension news release.

In the bug-eat-bug world, it seems like everyone likes to eat aphids. They’re slow, plentiful, and apparently other insects find them to be quite tasty.

When soybean aphid was first found in Wisconsin in 2000, Midwest scientists immediately began looking for potential natural enemies of the new pest.

Lady beetles, lacewings, flower flies, pirate bugs, damsel bugs, and even spiders find aphids to be convenient food. Entomologists have found the great diversity of natural enemies that already exist in the Midwest is playing a significant role in keeping soybean aphid populations down. However, the existing natural enemies have not been efficient enough to reliably reduce aphid populations.

Another natural enemy of the aphid comes in the form of tiny parasitic wasps. These wasps tend to specialize – each species of wasp has a fairly narrow range of types of aphids that it will attack.

A team of scientists has been working on a project called “importation biological control.” Entomologists from the USDA and from Midwest universities have made several trips to Asia, the native home of soybean aphid, to look for more effective specialized natural enemies. The results of several years of research began to pay off last year, when the USDA approved release of the tiny parasitic wasp, Binodoxys communis, a native of China.

Releases were made in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and other Midwestern states. Although the results of these releases will not be fully realized for probably a few years, University of Wisconsin-Extension entomologists are conducting a field day this August to update producers, consultants and Extension personnel on soybean aphid biological control.

The event will be Aug. 5, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., at the Public Events Building at the UW’s Arlington Agricultural Research Station. The morning program includes lectures on fundamentals of biological control within an Integrated Pest Management context, an overview of soybean aphid biology and management, a survey of existing soybean aphid natural enemies, and a summary of the importation biological control program. In the afternoon, participants will get direct experience with soybean aphid natural enemies in both laboratory and field demonstrations.

Attendees will receive a copy of the new UW-Extension book “Biological Control of Insects and Mites.”

Conference registration will be limited to 40 people; the registration deadline is Monday, July 28. For registration information contact Helen Thompson, Department of Entomology, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, or phone the department at 608-262-3227.

– Lorre Kolb