BugCast: A podcast about insects

Podcast--you may have heard the word, but you don't know what it means. I can assure you that if you have kids in high school or college, they will know. It is relatively new technology that often, but not always, uses the iPod to capture and display either audio or video.

According to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, podcasting is a method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio programs or music videos, over the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. The term podcast, like "radio," can mean both the content and the method of delivery. The host or author of a podcast is often referred to as a "podcaster." A podcaster's Web site also may offer direct download or streaming of their files; however, a podcast is distinguished by its ability to be downloaded automatically using software capable of reading RSS or Atom feeds. Podcasting's essence is about creating content (audio or video) for an audience that wants to listen or watch when they want, where they want, and how they want.

On February 18, 2006, the first "BugCast with Marlin Rice" was posted on the Web. This podcast was an interview-style video with Doug Cooper, extension communications producer. Since then, Doug and I, along with Loren Porter and several other talented people in Iowa State University Extension Communications and Marketing, have developed and delivered an additional six BugCasts. More are planned throughout the summer and these will be posted on the Internet about once every week.

So far, we have developed video podcasts on planting dates and Bt rootworm corn, soybean aphid winter survival, scouting for alfalfa weevils, impact of winter weather on insects, northern corn rootworm in soybeans, variant western corn rootworms in Iowa, and multi-colored Asian lady beetles.

If you would like to view these podcasts, these procedures will help you access the files.

Accessing the BugCasts

First, try accessing them from the ISU Extension Podcasts Page. If that doesn't work, follow these instructions:

1. Go to http://www.apple.com/itunes/.

2. Click on the "Launch Music Store" tab under the blue tab "iPod + iTunes."

3. A new page, "The Music Store," will appear. On the left side in the "Inside the Music Store" where it says "Choose Genre," go down three lines to "Podcasts." Click on this.

4. A new page will open. Type "BugCast" in the search box shown with the magnifying glass on the right side of the search box.

5. A new page appears showing the title "BugCast with Marlin Rice" and a red "Iowa State University" box. Click on the red box and a list of BugCasts will appear.

The podcasts can be downloaded and viewed on an iPod if you have one, or they can be watched and listened to on your computer.

We believe these BugCasts are the first insect-related podcasts to be posted on the Internet. I remember a line from the movie Field of Dreams about building a baseball diamond in the middle of an Iowa corn field--"If you build it, they will come." Hopefully, this new technology will find a place in communicating relevant information to agronomists, certified crop advisers, and field scouts on insects and their management in Iowa field crops, and that over time, more and more people will become accustomed to using it. If you have suggestions on how future BugCasts could benefit you and your understanding of insects, then please contact me at merice@iastate.edu.

An iPod can be used to hear the latest BugCast.

This article originally appeared on page 127 of the IC-496(12) -- May 22, 2006 issue.

Updated 11/09/2006 - 10:07am