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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Soybean Aphids

Posted by John Fulton -

We had a tremendous buildup in the populations of soybean aphids just before the soybeans started maturing. What does this have to do with horticulture? When the population builds to a large level, or the food source runs out, the aphids grow wings to look for another location. In our case, both of these events occurred at about the same time. This might explain some of the clouds of "gnats" people have been asking about. Well, they aren't gnats, but soybean aphids in many instances. There are some fungus gnats, some other insects such as the insidious flower bugs or minute pirate bugs, but most of the clouds are soybean aphids.

With the build-up in aphid populations, comes a build-up in predator populations. Just think back to high school biology and the rabbits and coyotes graph. Remember the coyotes lag the rabbits by a while. What this means is a build-up in populations of aphid predators for us. Natural aphid controls include lady bugs, syrphid flies, parasitic wasps, and diseases. The end result is a monumental build-up in populations of these natural controls, and it is already underway. It stands to reason if we had over 1000 of these aphids on each soybean plant, it will take quite a few predators to try and control all of them. And if you have a soybean field close, you will probably have more aphids and predators.

The populations of the predators will then put them in the nuisance pest category, since you won't be able to open a door without admitting some of them. If they become too much problem in the house, you can do a quick spray with an aerosol for flying insects. The vacuum cleaner also remains a great way to pick up a few unwanted visitors in the home. As for the aphids, about the only potential problem from them is on garden beans still going. Most pesticides, including, malathion, bifenthrin, permethrin, insecticidal soap, will control aphids.

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