No. 14 Article 5/June 29, 2007

Release of Binodoxys communis for Soybean Aphid Management

Within the next two to three weeks, entomologists at the University of Illinois will join colleagues throughout the Midwest in a historic release of a parasitoid with hopes of regulating future populations of soybean aphids in the United States. Through a grant funded by the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP), biological control specialists in North America have been studying and rearing Binodoxys communis, a very tiny wasp parasitoid known to help regulate populations of soybean aphids in China. Funds from state soybean associations, including the Illinois Soybean Association, also have contributed significantly to advancement of this effort.

A lot of necessary preliminary research has been conducted to ensure that the parasitoid does not have any negative impacts on ecosystems in North America, and in 2007 the USDA-APHIS finally granted permission to release the parasitoid in North America. This is a milestone for researchers and producers in the development of a long-term, multi-tactic management strategy for soybean aphids in the Midwest.

We anticipate that we will gain considerable insight regarding the impact of B. communis on populations of soybean aphids over the next few years, and we hope to report that their impact will alleviate annual concerns about the threat of soybean aphids. In an ongoing effort to keep you informed, we will publish the results of our activities and keep you apprised of developments of this research over time. In the meantime, you can learn more about B. communis, and biological control more generally, by viewing the "videos" of the short course "Managing Soybean Aphids in 2007: How Will Biological Control Contribute?"

Our surveys, plus reports from several individuals, indicate thus far that densities of soybean aphids in northern Illinois still are very small. The high temperatures and recent beating rains in some areas have combined to keep their numbers down. However, a period of temperatures in the 70s and 80s could be beneficial for development of soybean aphid populations and could spell trouble in some areas, so the advice for watchfulness continues to carry the day.--Kevin Steffey

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