New consortium launched to conserve Monarch butterfly habitat in Iowa

By Brian Meyer, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications, Iowa State Univsersity

bmeyer@iastate.eduMonarch - USDA

AMES, Iowa — Enhancing the monarch butterfly’s habitat in rural and urban Iowa is the goal of a new, broad-based statewide effort.

The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium, established through the efforts of Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, will take a science-based approach to enhancing monarch butterfly reproduction and assist community-led implementation efforts.

Initial partners in the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium include farmer and conservation organizations, state agencies, companies and Iowa State.

“The consortium will offer opportunities to connect rural and urban communities in a common goal to ensure monarchs remain part of Iowa’s landscape,” said Craig Hill, a Milo farmer and president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

Joe McGovern, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, said, “The consortium will build on Iowa’s experience in related conservation efforts and can make great strides in benefiting monarchs. We look forward to getting the word out to all Iowans about how they can help increase monarch habitat.”

The monarch butterfly is an iconic species for the Midwest, and Iowa is the heart of the butterfly’s breeding range.

Nationally, declines in monarch butterflies have been attributed to loss of overwintering habitat, and the loss of milkweed habitat. Monarchs depend on milkweed plants for laying their eggs and for caterpillar nutrition. As adults, monarchs also rely on other plants for nutrition.

Iowa State University will lead research to develop cost-effective methods to establish and maintain milkweed plants in both rural and urban settings.

“The bottom line is that while we are proceeding with a sense of urgency, we also will use and develop sound scientific understanding to guide the development of cost-effective, productive monarch habitat,” said Sue Blodgett, chair of the Department of Entomology at Iowa State.

“Applying the best available science to improving the monarch’s reproductive success is important for our state and the nation,” she said. “The new consortium may lead to collaborations with other Midwestern states in the monarch’s breeding range.”

Research will evaluate criteria for optimal reproduction-promoting habitats, including the mix of milkweed species and companion plants, and the size and spacing of milkweed patches. Scientists also will refine surveying and monitoring methods to establish a baseline for monarch populations and habitat enhancements for assessing the performance of renewed conservation efforts.

Farmer extension and outreach will be led by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, state agencies and Iowa farmer organizations. Extension programs will deliver practical, “how to” information for conserving and restoring monarch butterfly breeding habitat on farms and rural areas.

“Delivering science-based extension information for both farmers and the general public helps raise awareness and motivation, and ensure a higher likelihood of successfully supporting monarch butterfly populations,” said Blodgett.

Educational programs for the general public will be delivered through consortium member organizations. The consortium also will reach out to youth groups such as 4-H clubs, FFA chapters and others.

The first efforts of the consortium can be seen this spring, as Iowa State University plants seedlings of milkweed on research farms around the state.

Last month ISU planted 10,000 seeds of nine different milkweed species in greenhouses. Seedlings will be transplanted into small demonstration plots on 13 ISU research farms. Also, two of the milkweed species will be transplanted or direct seeded into larger research habitat plots to study how the plants grow, proliferate and adapt to local conditions. Researchers will formulate and plant a monarch seed mix that includes milkweed and nectar-producing prairie plants. Through the year, researchers will monitor butterflies in the plots from egg and larvae through adult stages.

The consortium’s initial efforts complement a recently announced national campaign by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which plans to establish on-the-ground monarch conservation projects, including a goal of planting 200,000 acres of milkweed.

Funding and support for the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium will come from contributions of partnering organizations and other sources.

Initial partners in the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium are: Iowa State University, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Cattlemens Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Iowa Nature Conservancy, DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto and Soil and Water Conservation Society. – See more at:

Iowa State University monarch consortium

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Webinar on RNA Interference as a Pest Management Tool for Western Corn Rootworm

Submitted by Robert Wright

Corn Rootworm Management
in the Transgenic Era

September 2015western corn rootworm kansas state


By Ana María Vélez, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor of Entomology
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Phone: 402-472-8694


Photo courtesy Kansas State University

Summary: RNA interference (RNAi) is being developed as a potential tool for insect pest management. The most likely target pest species for transgenic plants that express double stranded RNA (dsRNA) is the western corn rootworm. This presentation will provide consultants, growers and other practitioners in the U.S. with an understanding of how RNAi works. It will also describe some recent RNAi innovations for insect pest management including in planta RNAi expression and risk assessment for RNAi technologies. Click on the link above to view the webinar.

This open access webinar is funded by USDA-NIFA grant 2013-41530-21220


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EPA Update: Public Comment Period Now Open for EPA’s Certification and Training Proposal

EPA Pesticide Program Updates

From EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs

presticide safety U of I extension

EPA website

Aug. 24, 2015

In this update:

Public Comment Period Now Open for EPA’s Certification and Training Proposal

The 90-day public comment period has started for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for pesticide applicators who apply restricted use pesticides. These pesticides are not available for purchase by the general public, require special handling, and may only be applied by a certified applicator or someone working under his or her direct supervision.

The goal of this proposed rule is to reduce the likelihood of harm from the misapplication of toxic pesticides and ensure a consistent level of protection among states. EPA has determined that use of restricted use pesticides would be safer with increased supervision and oversight. EPA is proposing stricter standards for people certified to use restricted use pesticides and to require all people who apply restricted use pesticides to be at least 18 years old. Certifications would be renewed every three years. Additional specialized licensing is also proposed for certain methods of application that can pose greater risks if not conducted properly, such as fumigation and aerial application. Individuals working under the supervision of certified applicators would now need training on using pesticides safely.

State agencies issue licenses to pesticide applicators who need to demonstrate under an EPA-approved program their ability to use these products safely. Many states already have in place some or many of EPA’s proposed changes. The proposed revisions would reduce the burden on applicators and pest control companies that work across state lines. The proposal promotes consistency across state programs by encouraging inter-state recognition of licenses.

Comment on the proposed changes at EPA comment link. in docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0183 EPA is accepting comments on the proposal until Nov.23, 2015.

Learn more about the proposal and certification for pesticide applicators: Pesticide information link

Posted in Agricultural IPM, Field Crop IPM, General Information, Insect Management, Regulatory Information, Weed Management | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Before Harvest Plan for Stored Grain Insect Management

A series of videos by national experts is available online that reviews stored grain insect pest management options.

Stored grain insect management videos

Stored Grain Integrated Pest Management in the North Central United States.

Presenters: Dr. Tom Phillips, Kansas State University, Manhattan KS; Dr. Frank Arthur, USDA-ARS, Manhattan KS; Dr. Linda Mason, Purdue University, West Lafayette IN.

Part 1. Pest Insect Biology and Identification Basics of Integrated Pest Management–IPM
Part 2. Pest Prevention
Part 3. IPM for Stored Corn
Part 4. Fumigation–Decisive control … when needed

This webinar was organized by Dr. Sarah Zukoff, Kansas State University, Garden City KS and Dr. Robert Wright, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Funding for this webinar was provided by USDA-NIFA through grants to the North Central Integrated Pest Management Center (2012-51120-20252 and 2011-51120-31160).


Posted in Agricultural IPM, Center News, Field Crop IPM, Insect Management, Pest management | Tagged , | Leave a comment

NCIPMC Working Group grant recipients announced

Nine working groups have recently been awarded 2015 grants from the North Central Integrated Pest Management Center (NCIPMC) totaling $159,574. The grants are funded by the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA).

“The North Central IPM Center’s Working Groups Grants Program supports self-selected and self–directed activities that benefit the North Central region and frequently includes individuals in other regions or countries,” said Susan Ratcliffe, director of the NCIPMC. “These groups take a small amount of funding and tackle important IPM issues from farm to city.”

The NCIPMC includes 12 states in the north central region of the United States. The working groups are focusing on solving pest outbreaks in both agricultural and urban settings in the safest and most effective manner possible. Briefly, the working groups’ scope of work is outlined below. Click the link at the bottom for more information.

Joining forces: Midwest and Western Weather Work Groups for National Harmonization of Weather-based Decision Tools; Iowa State University, $20,000.

This group will integrate weather data to make weather-based IPM advisories available to specialty crop growers nationally.

Organic and IPM Working Group: Strengthening the Alliance; IPM Institute of North America, $15,458. Enhancing food security by building stronger alliances between organic and IPM systems is the goal of the Organic and IPM Working Group.

Public Tick IPM Working Group; IPM Institute of North America, $12,275. The Public Tick IPM Working group strives to reduce tick-borne disease by collaborating on IPM-related efforts that reduce the risk of tick exposure.

The Native American Integrated Pest Management/Invasive Species Management (IPM/ISM) Working Group; Fort Berthold Community College, $12,410. American Indian Tribal lands support diverse ecosystems where pest and invasive species management issues will be addressed by this working group.

Industrial and Commercial (IC)  SCOPE: Improving IPM by Promoting Pest Prevention through Exclusion (IC) Food Handling Facilities; University of Minnesota, $20,000. This working group will explore preventing pest entry and routes to eliminate chronic infestations in food handling facilities.

North Central Consumer Horticultural IPM Working Group (CHWG); Regents of the University of Minnesota, $20,000. The horticultural working group has an aggressive agenda of seven objectives relating to IPM practices for landscapes and gardens across a broad audience including arboretum visitors, youth and Master Gardeners.

Sunflower Pathology Working Group 2015; North Dakota State University, $19,855. Disease is the significant biological yield-limiting factor in sunflower production but little research has been done and IPM recommendations are almost nonexistent – a situation this working group wants to turn around.

Pulse Crop Working Group; North Dakota State University, $19,576. Pulse crops are field pea, lentil and chickpea. The Pulse Crop Working Group plans to increase research in biotic disorders and raise awareness of pulse crop IPM practices.

Working Group on Invasive Plants in Trade; University of Wisconsin-Madison, $20,000. Ornamental invasive plants are a threat to natural resources, lawns and agricultural lands. This group will work with stakeholders to develop strategies to reduce their sale and explore sterile cultivars.

Working Group Grant recipients


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Welcome to the NCIPMC electronic newsletter

The North Central Integrated Pest Management Center welcomes you to our new format for our newsletter known as The Connection. We are excited to unveil this new format that will give you timely industry news one or two articles at a time – no more than once a day.

The purpose of the North Central IPM Connection newsletter is to provide a mechanism for the region and our partners to easily share IPM-related information that may include programs/center updates, funding, training and employment opportunities, educational resources, crop and pest updates and press releases.

If you received this email directly from us, then you are already subscribed to our newsletter.  If this email was forwarded to you, please consider subscribing now.

Enter your email in the box to the right to subscribe.

We are also seeking participants to submit timely and informative articles on IPM topics. To review guidelines and register please click on the link:
Register to become a contributor

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