Soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura (Hemiptera: Aphididae), is a serious pest of soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr., in the North Central United States. Current management recommendations rely on the application of insecticides based on an economic threshold (ET) of 250 aphids per plant. Natural enemies are important in slowing the increase of aphid populations and can prevent them from reaching levels that can cause economic losses. However, biological control of A. glycines is inconsistent and can be affected negatively by the intensity of agricultural activity. We measured the impact of a natural-enemy-free environment on the capacity of the current ET to limit yield loss. In 2008 and 2009, caged microplots were assigned to one of three treatments: plants kept aphid-free (referred to as the control), plants that experienced a population of 250 aphids per plant (integrated pest management [IPM]), and plants that experienced unlimited aphid population growth (unlimited). The population growth rate of aphids in the unlimited treatment for the 10 d after the application of insecticides to the IPM treatment was calculated using linear regression. The linear equation was solved to determine the mean number of days between the ET and the EIL for an aphid population in absence of predators. The number of days was determined to be 6.97 ± 1.11 d. The 2-yr average yield for the IPM treatment was 99.93% of the control treatment. Our study suggests the current soybean aphid ET of 250 aphids per plant can effectively protect yield even if the impact of natural enemies is reduced.
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Vol. 104 • No. 3