Since 2000, soybean aphid has been the primary soybean insect pest in Iowa. Infestations are sporadic and unpredictable, but this insect has the ability to cause significant yield loss during periods of optimal reproduction. Several notable infestations have been reported, particularly in north-central Iowa, this week, and therefore scouting to determine population densities is strongly encouraged. Fields that have a fairly uniform infestation with low densities (e.g., 50% of plants infested with an average of 40 aphids per plant) should be closely monitored in August.
Biology. Soybean aphid is the only species in Iowa that will colonize soybean. After developing on their overwintering host, buckthorn, winged adults will migrate to soybean and potentially product 15+ generations. Initial infestations in soybean are patchy and located near field edges, but winged aphids can quickly disperse within and between fields. Long and short distance immigration is more likely after bloom. Aphids prefer to feed on the undersides of leaves (Photo 1) and will colonize on the newest leaves. If a large colony develops and leaves are crowded, soybean aphid will feed on stems.