Predators and Other Natural Enemies

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Soybean plants face a wide range of stressors that must be continually kept in check in order for the seed to fully develop and produce a high yield for the farmer. Stress from insect pests can be addressed through the use of both biological controls and or pesticides. Many beneficial insects and spiders like the Crab Spider shown in picture 1, play a role in regulating pest populations. There are many different beneficial insects that prey on pest within the soybean field. Lady Beetles including the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis, Damsel Bug, Nabis americoferus and Nabis roseipennis, and the Minute Pirate Bug are a small sample. In addition to predatory insects other biological controls such as insect parasitoids and insect pathogens can also have an effect on pest population. The Bracnoid Wasp in its larvae stage uses caterpillars, aphids and other insects as a host to feed on, which eventually results in the death of the host. Certain fungi, bacteria and viruses may also aide in controlling pests in the soybean field.  If the predators and natural enemies are keeping levels of pest damage to an acceptable level then the use of pesticides may not be needed. However this is not always the case and farmers may have to use pesticides to bring pest levels back down to acceptable levels or risk extensive damage to their crop which ultimately means a loss of income.

  • Biological Controls:  the use of living beneficial organisms, also called natural enemies, for the control of pests.
  • Pesticide: a chemical applied to plants to kill or reduce the number harmful organisms (i.e., pests)
  • Insect Parasitoid: Any of various insects whose larvae are parasites that eventually kill their hosts. The adult parasitoid deposits an egg on or inside the body of its host, typically the larva of another arthropod. When the egg hatches, the parasitoid larva feeds on the host's tissues, gradually killing it.
  • Insect Pathogen: any disease-producing agent, especially a virus, bacterium, or other microorganism.
  • Host: An organism that is infected with or is fed upon by a parasitic or pathogenic organism (for example, a virus, nematode, fungus).