We’ve talked about spraying for insect pests in the past, but did you know there are some beneficial insects that could “take care of a problem” for Ontario grain farmers? One of the world’s most recognizable beetles, Ladybugs are a predator against one of Ontario’s biggest insect pests: soybean aphids.
Aphids are a very small, greenish-brown insect that blows in on winds from the south and can cause huge issues in farmer’s soybean fields. They have a piercing/sucking mouth part that they use to suck the juice out of the soybean plant, causing yellowing, curled leaves, wilting leaves, and in severe cases, plant death.
Farmers scout their fields this time of the year in order to monitor aphid populations. This means they walk through the field, inspecting random plants, as well as looking out across the field for any areas that might not look the same as the rest of the field.
Ladybugs are a natural predator to soybean aphids, and many times when there are aphids there may be a large ladybug population nearby. In fact, it has been reported that ladybugs will eat up to 50 species of aphids!
While natural predators are a great solution to pest problems, they may not always be the answer. When farmers are determining whether or not to spray their crops for an aphid infestation, they will examine how many aphids they see (250 or more on a plant if considered to be harmful to the crop’s success) and whether or not the natural predators in the area are helping manage the problem. If the beneficial insects aren’t enough to keep the threat under control, they will then turn to a pesticide solution to control pests.
Ladybugs are a valuable tool farmers may rely on to help keep Ontairo soybean health and growing in order to produce high quality soy based products.