Initial Research and Education on New Insect Pest in Corn

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Title of Success Story

Initial Research and Education on New Insect Pest in Corn

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

Bird Cherry-Oat aphid was first recognized in Northeast Iowa as a potential pest in corn production just within the last few years.  It’s very spotty occurrence in a small number of corn fields began to raise concerns that this insect might become a significant problem.  Research trials established in corn in 2011 were the first of their kind anywhere in the United States.  Results from these trials provide initial awareness of the pest, and a foundation for additional research to acquire information on this pest’s behavior and potential yield reductions it may cause in corn production.

(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

winter ISU Extension Crop Production Programs.  We educated agricultural providers and farmers on Bird Cherry-Oat aphid identification; timely scouting for the pest, and a rough idea on what might be a treatable pest level.  This should result in improve timeliness of insecticide treatments for this pest where it appears to be a problem, and avoid prophylactic applications do to the ignorance of others attempting to deal with this pest.

(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

The 2011 research trial results were summarized into a Power Point presentation that was shared with agricultural providers and ISU Extension faculty and staff.  The ISU Extension Agronomist in northeast Iowa presented this information at 21 programs to over 1,200 farmers and agricultural providers.  Other Extension staff and agricultural providers used this information to educated additional farmers about this pest.  In addition, in the 2011 season during my research and scouting activities on this pest, I also published an article in mid-August on my email newsletter notifying farmers and agricultural providers to be aware of the current activity of this pest.  This newsletter reaches over 800 people in northeast Iowa, and over 130 in the region of particular concern with this pest.

RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

In the long term, this pest will require additional years of research on multiple sites across northern Iowa to determine reliable economic thresholds and efficacy of treatments.

In the short term, a subset of the 21 educational programs mentioned above was surveyed as to the potential impact of this current effort.  The subset consisted of farmers from 5 of the 21 programs, and represented the region in northeast Iowa currently under the greatest threat of this pest (Howard, Chickasaw and Winneshiek County).  Before and after meeting survey results of the farmers include:
    1)  Farmer ability to identify the pest improved by 91%.
    2)  Farmer ability to understand this pest’s typical population pattern on corn and when to scout improved by 83%.
    3)  Farmer understanding of an estimated pest population to trigger a treatment improved 47%, while 28% of the farmers suggested that this population was too high and planned to treat sooner.
    4)  Average economic benefit in 2011 to either treat for the pest problem or avoid an unnecessary treatment (based on notification from my email newsletter or personal communications):  +$15 per acre on approximately 14,000 acres.

Desired Changes

Research on this pest is in its infancy.  Continued research over multiple years and locations is necessary to provide reliable information for best pest management practices.  Even so, in just a short period of time, significant awareness of this pest was achieved and will continue.  With increased awareness among farmers and agricultural providers we will have more opportunities to identify problem fields, conduct additional research and develop substantially more reliable pest management recommendations.

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Brian Lang, Extension Field Agronomist, Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek, Winneshiek County Extension, 325 Washington St., Decorah, IA 52101, Office 563-382-2949, Cell 563-387-7058.

Your Position

­­­­­__x__Field                                        _____Campus                         _____Both

POW # and Team

 ­­­­­__x__100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
­­­­­_____ 110 Dairy
­­­­­_____ 120 Farm and Business Management
­­­­­_____ 130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
­­­­­_____ 140 Iowa Beef Center
­­­­­_____ 150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
­­­­­_____ 160 Natural Resources and Stewardship

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­__x__Global Food Security and Hunger
­­­­­_____Regional Food Systems
­­­­­__x__Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship
­­­­­_____Food Safety
­­­­­_____Sustainable Energy – Biofuels & Biobased Products
­­­­­_____Climate Change

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)


Continuing Story

__x__ No                _____  Yes (If continuing, what story?)
Initial effort on what will be continuing work.

Major Partners or Collaborators

Steve Maley with Seed Solutions at Farmers Mill in Protivin, Bill Lukes with Farmers Feed and Grain in Riceville, Jim Green with Riceville FFA.

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

Howard, Winneshiek and Chickasaw counties in Northeast Iowa.

Fiscal Year


Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)


Funding Source

Northeast ISU Extension Agronomist Program and collaborators listed above.


Bird Cherry-Oat aphid, aphid, corn


Page last updated: March 22, 2012
Page maintained by Julie Honeick,