By Illinois Radio Network
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois corn and soybean farmers haven’t been plagued by too many pests in recent years, but warm summer weather could still bring trouble.
Kelly Estes with the Illinois Natural History Survey said a cold winter helped kill off some insects, but summer weather is the key.
“We’ve had a lot of rain so crops are going great and, you know what, the insect populations are growing rather well, too, if you will,” Estes said.
Estes helps survey insect populations across the state and tracks which ones will pose a problem to corn and bean farmers.
“Some of our main summer pests that we’re surveying for and looking at and dealing with on a regular basis here in Illinois — the big one right now is Japanese beetles,” Estes said.
Some of the highest populations of Japanese beetles last year were in western Illinois. Estes said they’re back there again this year.
“Despite the cold weather, they survived really well over there,” Estes said. “The populations tend to look like they’re pretty high over there again.”
She and other researchers are doing insect surveys to find out whether the beetle numbers are rising in eastern Illinois where they haven’t been as abundant recently. Western rootworm populations dropped in recent years but are up slightly now. Estes is studying whether they’ll become a bigger problem.
“Are those populations continuing to increase very slightly or more, I guess, if you will or in general are they increasing from 2017 to 2018,” she said.
Estes also tracks invasive insect species that are moving closer to Illinois from the South. Another threat on the horizon is a growing population of different kinds of stink bugs heading into Illinois from eastern states and the Gulf Coast. Those can be very damaging to soybean crops.