By Robert Koch
As soybean aphid populations continue to increase and decisions are being made to apply insecticides to some fields, steps can be taken to help reduce unintended risks to pollinators (such as honeybees, native bees, butterflies and hover flies), which may occur in and near soybean fields.
Consider the following suggestions to reduce the risk of exposing pollinators to foliar-applied insecticides:
• Use integrated pest management (IPM) to reduce the need for insecticide applications, and use scouting and economic thresholds to ensure insecticides are applied only when needed to protect yield.
• Communicate with local beekeepers about pesticide applications (products and schedules). Locations of some hives can be found on http://driftwatch.org/.
• If available, use insecticides and formulations with lower risk to bees. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture provides a summary of toxicities of different pesticides to bees (Verified bee toxicity table: http://www.mda.state.mn.us/protecting/bmps/pollinators/
• Apply insecticides in early-morning or late-evening, which are time periods generally considered less harmful to most pollinating insects. However, avoid conditions conducive to inversions.
• Do not apply insecticides when winds could carry the product onto flowering habitats near fields. Wind speeds in excess of 10 mph may result in drift problems.
Always read and follow the instructions on product labels. Labels for some products/formulations with high toxicity to bees will provide specific directions for minimizing risk to pollinators.
Notes from Randy Pepin:
Armyworms: There have been several reports in the area of armyworm infestations. Areas hit by armyworms are random and not too large but experience almost total devastation. The good news is that armyworms have about run their course and they do not overwinter here. With much warmer than normal May weather and continued warm/wet weather in June and early July, not only have our warm season crops such as corn and soybeans flourished, but many insects, molds, and
funguses have also.
Wrapping it Up: This article will most likely be my last as a UMN Extension Educator. I have been with Extension for over 11 years. The first five and one-half years I was the Livestock Educator in Todd County and the next five and one-half years I worked on three separate statewide manure projects. Since April, I have been the interim Crops Educator for Stearns, Benton, and Morrison Counties and the new person is ready to start mid-August. I have enjoyed my time with UMN Extension. So, what is next? After considering my UMN Extension work with manure and some independent manure management experience, I have decided to pursue manure management as an independent consultant. Therefore, I will still be around the area working with livestock farmers. Have a fun and safe remainder of summer and then fall.