Mild winter harsh on field crop pests

Many corn and soybean farmers are wondering how mild winter conditions will affect insect populations during the growing season.

Iowa State University Extension entomologist Erin Hodgson says the ideal situation for field crop pests that overwinter is when temperatures remain cold up to planting.

“So if you have these oscillating temperatures where you have above freezing, below freezing. A day that was 60, and then potentially having some freezing weather again, that’s really hard on their body.”

She tells Brownfield when temps are above 40 degrees, overwintering insects begin to wake up.

“And sometimes it’s really hard to go back into that resting or diapause stage, so it takes energy to wake up. And if they have to do that again like wake, sleep, wake, sleep, basically they can run out of energy.”

Hodgson says that should bode well for farmers dealing with bean leaf beetles and soybean aphids, but it won’t have much impact on pests that overwinter below ground like corn rootworm and Japanese beetle.

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