S1080: Improving Soybean Arthropod Pest Management in the U.S.

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

S1080: Improving Soybean Arthropod Pest Management in the U.S.

Duration: 10/01/2023 to 09/30/2028

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Non-Technical Summary

Statement of Issues and Justification

Soybean production continues to increase to meet world demand.  In 2021, the U.S. produced 4.44 billion bushels of soybeans, making it the second-largest soybean producer in the world (USDA, NASS 2022).  This represents a record value of $45.7 billion for U.S. soybean (USDA, NASS 2022).  Emerging and existing invertebrate pests continue to threaten soybean yield and quality as they adapt to management practices and expand their ranges.  In the short term, the loss of previously effective management tactics is increasing producer costs.  In the long-term, the establishment of invasive insect pests will continue to impact soybean ecosystems, altering integrated pest management (IPM) strategies that have proven effective in the past.  In the Midsouth and Southeast, corn earworm, soybean looper, and stink bugs such as the redbanded stink bug, brown stink bug, southern green stink bug, and green stink bug continue to be major pest issues.  In addition, the brown marmorated stink bug continues to expand its range (Koch et al. 2017), along with the southern green stink bug.  In 2020, the stink bug complex was the costliest pest group in soybean, followed by the corn earworm (Musser et al. 2021).  In the Mid-Atlantic, slugs are significant threats to soybean, particularly as soil conservation practices increase.  In the Midwest, the discovery of soybean gall midge (Gagne et al. 2019) as a new species and its establishment as a pest has the potential to irreversibly change soybean production (McMechan et al. 2021).  Existing pests such as the soybean aphid, Dectes stem borer, stink bugs, and a complex of insect defoliators have the potential to result in unacceptable yield loss when significant pressure occurs.  To address these concerns, a coordinated research and extension delivery project is necessary to understand pest biology, develop best management practices, and deliver recommendations to soybean producers.

Rapidly addressing stakeholder needs is the foundation of S1080.  Participants of S1080 maintain this exceptional track record of response through state, regional, and national soybean commodity groups as well as partnerships with industry and non-governmental organizations.  The regional response as a result of S1080 has allowed for the development of effective soybean insect IPM research projects and the dissemination of research-based information through extension activities.  This approach has the additional benefit of avoiding overlapping research among regions while maximizing collaborations.  Without research-based management recommendations, millions of dollars can be lost as a result of decreased yields or seed quality, improper deployment of control recommendations, and/or increased insecticide resistance.  S1080 participants have the skills, facilities, and knowledge to develop and implement effective, user-friendly IPM programs for these pests and future insect pest problems.

Since 2018, this regional project has effectively addressed challenges posed by new pest species of unknown origin such as soybean gall midge (Gagne et al. 2019, McMechan et al. 2021) as well as insects that continue to expand their range, such as redbanded stink bug (Bundy et al. 2018), brown marmorated stink bug (Hamilton et al. 2018), and kudzu bug (Eger et al. 2018).  Additionally, soybean pests continue to develop resistance to insecticides, including soybean aphid to pyrethroids (Hanson et al. 2017).  Along with the changing pest complexes, soybean producers are also faced with managing pests with fewer tools and technologies, and at higher risks.  Renewed interest in cover crops and planting green add a new complexity to management of pest and beneficial arthropods in soybean.  A recent review shows several gaps in research and a need for multi-state projects with a consistent protocol (Carmona et al. 2021).  In addition, some states are experiencing a change from determinate to semi-determinate or indeterminate varieties that can alter the thresholds of existing pests (Schug et al. 2022).  With today’s market, soybean farmers are more reliant on insurance-based tactics as a result of uncertain commodity prices, the cost of production, insurance premiums, and changing weather.  This often leads to prophylactic treatments that are often mistimed or applied to sub-economic pest populations to prevent pest injury.  This leads to negative impacts on beneficial arthropods such as pollinators and predatory insects and to an increasing potential for resistance.  The widespread precautionary use of insecticides, in particular seed treatments, has led to contamination by neonicotinoid compounds in the soil and in plants in adjacent habitats (Hall et al. 2022).

Regional extension deliverables through participants of S1080 such as text alert systems (blackboard connect), pest management apps (aphid speed scout app), a pest specific website for soybean gall midge (soybeangallmidge.org), and 3D printing allow clientele to be engaged on multiple platforms to receive important information that is needed to increase awareness and aid in the decision making process.

Advantages of this Multi-State Effort

Soybean is grown in more than 29 states in the U.S. with many soybean insect pests distributed across state lines and provincial borders in Canada.  S1080 has worked synergistically to address invertebrate pest challenges across the U.S. and Canada with a significant benefit to the soybean industries.  A large number of the S1080 participants from several states have obtained grants and published together.  The combination of expertise and effort of multiple scientists across the region has resulted in the development of effective IPM solutions, and a clear and unified presentation of information among states.  This natural collaborative relationship between S1080 participants has led to the development and deployment of IPM programs for soybean defoliators, kudzu bug, stink bugs (Stink bugs on Soybean in the North Central Region), and soybean aphid (Krupke et al. 2017), with others anticipated in coming years (e.g., for soybean gall midge).

These research efforts are supported by experienced basic and applied research and extension entomologists who work in universities and government agencies from the various soybean producing states in the U.S. and provinces in Canada.  Participants maintain connections and collaborations through multi-state projects and with various state, regional, and national commodity organizations as well as with private industry.  Through the coordination of S1080, these scientists have an excellent record of developing and implementing effective IPM programs for major insect pests attacking soybean.  In 2009, the S1080 multi-state project (then named S1039) received the National Excellence in Multistate Research Award from the American Public Land-Grant Universities.  Based on these prior accomplishments, we feel strongly that our group is positioned to continue to deliver useful, science-based information to our stakeholders in the face of new and changing pest challenges.

Likely Impacts

This project will generate data on established and invasive soybean pest densities, distributions, and biology that are critical to improve overall national soybean IPM programs.  The group continues to focus on soybean gall midge, soybean aphid, Dectes stem borer, stink bugs, slugs, corn earworm, and insecticide-resistant Lepidoptera while continuing to scout, document, and control invasive soybean pests.  In general, the project will continue to prioritize maintaining a sustainable soybean IPM program, where sustainability is defined as pursuing maximal profitability in the short-term without sacrificing the potential for long-term stability of the system.  We will continue our focus on utilizing a combination of biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools to regulate pest populations while minimizing environmental risks.

Related, Current and Previous Work

Members of the previous (S1080) project have performed research and have been the leaders in providing recommendations for several soybean insect pests and the tactics used to control them.  Here, we list some of the outputs and outcomes that S1080 has produced:

Soybean Aphid: S1080 (previous S1055) members have participated in multi-year, multi-state studies determining soybean aphid dispersal patterns, generating the soybean aphid economic thresholds and injury levels still used today (Ragsdale et al. 2007, Marchi-Werle et al. 2017), documenting changing insecticide efficacy (Koch et al. 2016), assessing the fitness cost of resistance with pyrethroid resistance (Valmorbida et al. 2022a), identifying point mutations for pyrethroid resistance (Paula et al. 2021), and describing mechanisms of pyrethroid resistance (Lozano et al. 2022, Valmorbida et al. 2022b).  Members also focused on host plant resistance, identifying and documenting host plant resistance in wild and domesticated soybean varieties (Hesler et al. 2013, 2017, 2022), defining the utility and future prospects of host plant resistance (Hesler et al. 2013, 2022), and identifying and characterizing resistance-breaking soybean aphid biotypes (Bhusal et al. 2021, Michel et al. 2011).

Soybean Gall Midge: S1080 members from multiple states have participated in a coordinated effort to scout for and detect soybean gall midge.  The group is documenting the current distribution of the midge (McMechan et al. 2021), has developed a plant injury score system (Helton et al. 2022), has initiated a multi-year larval and adult monitoring program (Montenegro Castro 2022), and has begun testing cultural, biological, chemical, and host plant resistance approaches to management.  Regional multi-state webinars have been held each winter to update the approximately 300-400 live participants on the latest tactics and information.

Insecticide Seed Treatments (ISTs): The impact and assessment of ISTs is contentious, especially given  the apparent link between neonicotinoids and bee declines (Goulson et al. 2015).  The key questions addressed by S1080 members are (1) do ISTs control early season soybean pests, (2) what are the economic benefits of ISTs, and (3) what impact do ISTs have on natural enemies and selected pollinators (bees).  The results vary among regions covered by S1080.  Whalen et al. (2021) recently provided a temporal profile of neonicotinoid concentrations from seed treatments in soybean as well as several other crops.  For the Midsouth, ISTs provided some early season insect control and provided economic benefit compared to fungicide-only treated seed in 4 out of 10 years (North et al. 2016).  In the Southeast, ISTs controlled thrips early in the season but did not result in increased yields (Reisig et al. 2012).  In the Midwest, ISTs controlled soybean aphid early in the season but did not result in yield increases (Krupke et al. 2017) or affect virulence management (Esquivel et al. 2021).  Importantly, a cross-regional analysis showed little to no yield benefit for ISTs in soybean (Mourtzinis et al. 2019).  S1080 (then S1055) members have also studied the effects of host plant resistance combined with ISTs and natural enemies (Kandel et al. 2015) and the toxicity of ISTs to natural enemies (Camargo et al. 2017).  Finally, S1080 members have been leaders in defining the impact of ISTs on honey bees (Stewart et al. 2014), showing that few soybean-foraging honey bees tested positive for neonicotinoids and that soybean flowers contain minimal neonicotinoid residues.

Kudzu Bug: S1080 (then S1055) members have participated in multi-year, multi-state studies investigating kudzu bug biology (Del-Pozo Valdivia and Reisig 2013), as well as determining kudzu bug action thresholds (Seiter et al. 2015a), identifying host plant resistance (Fritz et al. 2016, Lahiri et al. 2020), determining dispersal patterns (Knight et al. 2017, Del-Pozo Valdivia and Reisig 2017), evaluating the impact of tillage (Del-Pozo Valdivia et al. 2017) and soybean planting date and maturity (Del-Pozo Valdivia et al. 2016) on populations, and establishing insecticide efficacy (Seiter et al. 2015b).

Stink Bugs: S1080 (then S1055) members have determined redbanded stink bug occurrence in soybean in Louisiana and Texas (Temple et al. 2013a, Vyavhare et al. 2014), identified redbanded stink bug action thresholds (Davis 2016), established insecticide efficacy (Temple et al. 2013b), described how redbanded stink bug feeding causes delayed maturity in soybean (Vyavhare et al. 2015), established oviposition behavior and sex ratios in the field (Temple et al. 2016), identified redbanded stink bug alternate hosts (Bastola and Davis 2018b, Vyavhare et al. 2016), and determined redbanded stink bug’s cold tolerance and supercooling capacity (Bastola and Davis 2018a).  S1080 members have also developed a presence-absence sampling plan through a Midwest regional study that allows for a reduction in the number of samples needed to achieve a management decision (Aita et al. 2021).  They evaluated the baseline flight capacity of the native brown stink bug captured from soybean and other hosts across the season (Babu et al. 2020).  Finally, S1080 members have identified temperature-driven differences in phenology and habitat suitability (Ogburn et al. 2023) and the regional distribution of the invasive brown marmorated stink bug in soybean (Bakken et al. 2015).

Dectes Stem Borer: S1080 members have evaluated the inheritance of antibiosis resistance (Aguirre-Rojas et al. 2021), conducted an evaluation of conventional soybean resistance (Aguirre-Rojas 2019), and continue to explore the utility of sunflower as a trap crop, and document expansion into more northern soybean production regions.

Additional work by S1080 members has documented the effect of soybean variety and systemic induction on herbivore feeding guilds in general (Dryburgh and Davis 2021), as well as explored the potential use of biopolymer nanoparticles to control soybean pests (Bonser et al. 2020; 2022).  Work has also been done to predict the spatial distribution of soybean defoliation (Greene et al. 2021), as well as the impact of plant population density and planting date on yield loss from defoliation (Thrash et al. 2021a,b).  A slug refuge trap was evaluated in cover crop systems (Raudenbush et al. 2021), and there has been a first report of a leaf-mining moth, Macrosaccus morrisella, feeding on soybean (Koch et al. 2021).


  1. 1. Document changes in new and existing soybean pests and beneficial arthropods.
    Comments: Soybean is injured by a diverse guild of insect pests feeding on leaves, stems, roots, nodules, and pods. The major insect pests in these guilds have markedly changed in the last two decades due to the introduction and range expansion of invasive insects and the adaptation of native pests.
  2. 2. Characterize soybean pests and beneficials through studies on their biology and ecology.
    Comments: The range expansion of invasive pests, coupled with the adaptation of native pests, necessitate further research into how insects cope with new selection pressures.
  3. 3. Develop best management practices (BMPs) on soybean pests through a coordinated effort to monitor, design protocols, develop thresholds, and evaluate new and existing tactics.
    Comments: As soybean insect pest assemblages change, there is a need to update pest management strategies.
  4. 4. Educate and inform farmers, industry, colleagues, general public, and agricultural professionals using traditional tools and innovative methods.
    Comments: Our Working Group works extensively with stakeholders at all levels. For our clientele, we represent one of the only unbiased sources of information for decision-making of IPM strategies.


Objective 1.  Document changes in new and existing soybean pests and beneficial arthropods.

IPM efforts must focus on these changing assemblages and this work will document the current equilibrium baseline of soybean insect pests in each state, both in terms of acres infested, acres treated, cost of treatment, and estimated loss due to each insect.  This working group has initiated existing multi-state sampling efforts and developed common protocols to monitor the spread of pests throughout the soybean-growing region (Herbert 2011).  This objective will develop and share new methodologies to survey for the presence, establishment, and spread of emerging and existing pests through coordinated sampling and surveys with clientele; i.e. extension agents, consultants, producers, and researchers.  This working group has a track record of successfully monitoring pest movement through soybean producing regions of the U.S. (Schmidt et al. 2012, Gardner et al. 2013, Temple et al. 2013a, Bakken et al. 2015, Koch et al. 2017, Villanueva 2017, Huseth et al. 2021).  S1080 has also been instrumental in identifying natural enemies that impact and regulate soybean pest populations (Moonga et al. 2018, Lee et al. 2022).  Population sampling methods used in those studies will continue to be employed in this project.  Records to document scouting efforts and insecticide use in each state will be collected with surveys of stakeholders, as well as state and federal scientists.  These yearly changes will be documented and collated into published reports and journal articles to provide historical records.  One such example of a publication is the annual report on soybean insect pest losses that includes contributions from the working group representing numerous US soybean producing states (Musser et al. 2021).

Objective 2. Characterize soybean pests and beneficials through studies on their biology and ecology.

This working group has excelled at characterizing soybean insect biology and ecology of invasive soybean pests such as soybean gall midge (McMechan et al. 2021, Helton et al. 2022), kudzu bug (Del Pozo-Valdivia and Reisig 2017, Knight et al. 2017), redbanded stink bug (Temple et al. 2016, Bastola and Davis 2018a,b), and soybean aphid (Hough 2016, Hesler et al. 2017, Marchi-Werle et al. 2017).  The working group continues to study the agroecological interactions of native soybean pests such as the corn earworm (Schug et al. 2022, Reisig et al. 2020a, Reisig et al. 2020b, Reisig et al. 2017, Suits et al. 2017, Adams et al. 2016a), the stink bug complex (Pezzini et al. 2019, Carlesso Aita et al. 2021, Ribeiro et al. 2022), slugs (Le Gall et al. 2017, 2022) bean leaf beetle (Tiroesele et al. 2014), threecornered alfalfa hopper (Cook et al. 2014), and beneficial insects (Whalen et al. 2016, Kandel et al. 2016, Bannerman et al. 2018, Lee et al. 2022).  We expect that as climate variability increases, insect pest activity throughout the growing season will be extended, population growth accelerated, pest-natural enemy complex interactions destabilized, and pest and natural enemy ranges shifted.  S1080 has been on the frontlines identifying these impacts on soybean pest management and soybean production (Huseth et al. 2021, Lawton et al. 2022).  Basic biological studies for target insects and interactions in the environment will continue to provide the basis for control.  This objective will include laboratory and field experiments to better understand soybean insect pest biology, and the direct effects of pests on soybean will be documented across multiple states.  Interactions with biotic (weeds, cover crops, pathogens, pollinators, and natural enemies), abiotic (climate, nutrients, insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides), and agronomic factors (varietal characteristics, planting time, and other crop management)  will be reviewed at multiple scales (plant, field, agroecosystem).  Additional studies will examine insect ecology under environmental conditions that restrict geographical ranges and influence reproductive rate.  Data from this objective will not only lead to a better understanding of insect pests, but will be integrated with Objectives 1, 3, and 4 to develop sustainable IPM recommendations based on system-level interactions.

Objective 3.  Develop best management practices (BMPs) on soybean pests through a coordinated effort to monitor, design protocols, develop thresholds, and evaluate new and existing tactics.

Single tactics alone are not sustainable, as this Working Group has demonstrated in the past.  Furthermore, as soybean insect pest assemblages change, there is a need to update management strategies.  Insect management strategies will be developed for emerging insect pests with consideration of their co-occurrence with other established pest species.  Sampling remains the foundation of successful IPM programs.  Therefore, this group will continue to study sampling methods as needed relative to pest management.  Development of action thresholds to initiate insecticide treatments has been a consistent and long-term successful output of this group (Ragsdale et al. 2007, Musser et al. 2011, Adams et al. 2016a).  In order to reduce inputs, environmental risks, and prophylactic treatments, working group participants will continue to develop and implement action thresholds specific to their regions (Owen et al. 2013a, Seiter et al. 2015a, Adams et al. 2016a, Temple et al. 2016, Marchi-Werle et al. 2017, Koch et al. 2016, Schug et al. 2022).  Insecticides remain a primary management tool and Working Group members will document changes in product efficacy, impacts on pollinators and other beneficials, and changes in the insecticide susceptibility among pest populations.  S1080 has been instrumental in documenting baseline and reduced insecticide efficacy over time and will continue to do so (Brown 2012, Owen et al. 2013b, Adams et al. 2016b, Ribeiro et al. 2017, Tietjen et al. 2017, Koch et al. 2018).  The value of biological control agents in an overall IPM program and the inherent risks posed by insecticide applications (foliar and seed-applied) to these agents will continue to be monitored.  There continues to be new soybean insect pest suppression technologies developed by industry.  Members remain as the primary contacts for the private sector and we will continue to test these new products in laboratory and field environments.

Objective 4.  Educate and inform farmers, industry, colleagues, general public, and agricultural professionals using traditional tools and innovative methods.

In order to extend timely information, multiple information delivery methods must be employed.  Traditional methods of stakeholder talks, factsheets, newsletters, and refereed publications will continue to be the foundation for transferring information.  Much of this effort will be facilitated through educational events with state, regional or county-based extension programming.  In this “connected” world, social communication and e-delivery methods (blogs, YouTube videos) will continue to expand and allow this Working Group to reach a broader range of demographics.  Members of this group are leaders in this delivery method including novel Smartphone apps such as “The Bugspot” and the “Northern Plains IPM Guide” (McCornack 2012, Tilmon and Hadi 2012).  Scientists associated with the project have a productive record of collaboration on multistate publications and coordinated recommendations (Swenson et al. 2013, Koch et al. 2016, Krupke et al. 2017).  It is anticipated that where possible, this collaboration will continue.  Novel information and experiences will be shared among Working Group members during the annual project meeting to highlight research successes and failures.  Finally, in order to continue general collaborations with other applied entomologists and extend research findings with colleagues beyond this Working Group, we will organize a “Multistate Project Symposium” addressing current soybean IPM issues each year at a professional conference.


Measurement of Progress and Results


  • ● Peer reviewed manuscripts in high impact journals
  • ● Training of graduate students to be the next leaders in research and education.
  • ● Proposals submitted to industry and state and federal agencies for research and education funding.
  • ● Presentations to industry, grower, and science/technical audiences.
  • ● Articles and/or reports to industry, grower, and science/technical audiences.
  • ● Structured symposia delivered at regional or national meetings

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • ● Documentation of soybean insect pests in each state, both in terms of acres infested, acres treated, cost of treatment, and estimated loss due to each insect.
  • ● Characterization of soybean insect pest biology and interactions of these pests with the biotic and abiotic factors
  • ● Documentation of regional performance data of host plant resistance genes and plant-incorporated protectants
  • ● Documentation of insecticide efficacy and spread of insecticide resistance
  • ● Knowledge on deploying integrated control tactics
  • ● Information for regional extension publications and outreach material


(0):Each of the output expectations will be satisfactorily completed on an annual basis through the five-year period of the project. This is an ongoing project and the annual results will build on each success to produce successful outcomes.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

Many members of this Working Group have substantial extension responsibilities.  Their work involves a variety of opportunities to interact with stakeholders.  One delivery method is through federal and state recertification programs: farmers and commercial applicators need continuing education credits to maintain their application certifications.  These meetings will allow scientists to provide research-based extension materials (e.g., factsheets, newsletters, other publications) on soybean insects and best management practices.  These outputs and recommendations are shared among members of the group to avoid duplication of effort and to harmonize our message between states.

Project members will continue to deliver recommendations to a wide variety of audiences through formal presentations, web-based learning tools, social media, and on-farm field demonstrations.  The knowledge and experience gained from field research and demonstrations will enable producers, agricultural consultants, and industry scientists to make informed decisions about managing insects in soybean, including: 1) a better understanding of the pest life cycles, and the implications for genetic resistance and long-term suppression; 2) recognition of emerging (and often invasive) pests; 3) identification of natural enemies and their suppressive effects on pests; and 4) discovery of proactive tactics (e.g., sampling and the use of an economic threshold) to ultimately protect yield and increase profits in an environmentally sustainable system.

In many instances, the members of this project represent one of the only unbiased sources of information for soybean IPM.  Numerous industry personnel serve these stakeholders directly but their messages may be influenced by their respective products.  The information generated in this project and shared at the annual meeting will facilitate developing regional recommendations from peer-reviewed results to support the U.S. soybean industry.


The Technical Committee is made up of voting members, one from each state or province.  A voting member is defined as the state leader or a designated proxy which has also submitted Appendix E.  The Executive Committee is made up of the Past-Chair, the Chair, and the Secretary (Chair-Elect), with the Administrative Advisor and the NIFA representative serving as ex-officio members.  The Secretary in a given year assumes the Chair position the following year.  Elections for a new Secretary are held at each annual meeting.  A separate individual will handle local arrangements for annual meetings.

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