Monday, November 28, 2011

Entomologists are funny, just ask us!

Us entomologists don't really have that many jokes to tell. I still think "frass happens" is pretty good stuff. But this year at the ESA meeting in Reno, they had an insect-related limerick contest. There were many humorous and creative submissions - perhaps we are a funny society after all? The overall winner was Martha Lutz, who wrote a witty poem about fireflies:
Au Naturel Selection: Photinus meets Photuris
A firefly who was benighted
saw a light and became so excited–
he rushed to his fate
while selecting a mate:
lost his head, lost his heart, was de-lighted.
It's actually about an interaction between two firefly species. I encourage you to visit Bug Girl's blog that gives a bit more detail about insect mimicry and the deceptive nature of some fireflies.

Some female fireflies lure in males with false mating signals.  
Photo by J. E. Lloyd.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Award-winning YouTube Videos

For the last three years, the ESA (Entomological Society of America) conducts a "YouTube Your Entomology" contest for members called the Stinger Award. There are several categories (research, extension and open) to submit 3-minute videos about insects. I have been fortunate enough to have my videos win in 2009 and 2010. My first video was about my young niece, Chloe, and her love of monarchs. Last year, I made an extension video about using a sweep net in soybean. This year, I made an extension video about Japanese beetle management in corn and soybean. I also partnered up with Brian McCornack and Wendy Johnson at Kansas State University, to do a spoof video in the open category. We talked about how Speed Scouting, a sampling plan for soybean aphid, is going paperless with a web-based tool called SoyPod DSS. I ended up winning in both categories this year!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ESA Meeting in Reno

I'm attending the annual entomology meeting in Reno this week. I presented a talk on the Iowa pest survey I conducted in 2010. It was a great discussion on changes in soybean production since the arrival of soybean aphid.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

This is a call…for aphids in corn yield response data

Like the Foo Fighters song, “this is a call” for your assistance with field data. I am interested in strip trials with aphids in corn from 2011. Did you count aphids in corn and make foliar insecticide applications? If you are willing to share data, I am compiling a larger data set to help answer some basic biology and economic questions about aphids in corn. When do aphids start to build up and how high can the populations reach in corn? When were applications made and were previous applications made in the same year? How many aphids does it take to cause a yield response? Is this number different for drought-stressed field? What is the knockdown efficacy of currently labeled products? 

It got pretty bad for corn fields in NE and NW Iowa this year. I saw corn that was grey and covered with aphids, cast skins, and honeydew. Most of the heavy infestations were at the field edge, so scouts could have overestimated populations if they didn't sample throughout the field. This is a difficult task, given it was mid-August!

  Some fields had very heavy aphid infestations in corn this year. Aphids were colonizing the stalk, ears and leaves. Photo by Brian Lang.

All this information feeds into developing an economic threshold and sampling plan for future growing seasons. I would really appreciate hearing about your experiences with aphids in corn this summer. Please email ( or call (515.294.2847). Thank you!!