A few years ago, Lewis Flohr looked at the insect counts in Purdue Entomology's Pest & Crop Newsletter and decided to forgo some of his pesticide applications the next spring.
"There were no rootworm adults laying eggs in the summer, so there wouldn't be larvae feeding on the roots the next spring," says Flohr, who raises 650 acres of corn in Clinton County.
Flohr is one of hundreds of farmers who receive the weekly newsletter and its insect counts, which cover flea beetles, Japanese beetles, corn rootworms, soybean aphids, and other pests.
The farmers use those counts, along with Purdue Extension recommendations, to make informed decisions about what types of pesticides they'll need and how to schedule them. Flohr estimates that he's saved more than $20,000 on corn insecticide in four years on his farm.
"I always applied insecticide even before refuge corn because they might be out there,” Flohr says. “Now, I'm not using insecticide even on my refuge rows and have had no root damage or stalk damage the last four years. There are tools out there that make it easy for us to see what these insects are doing."
Christian Krupke, a Purdue entomologist, keeps the insect counts for his research program, which focuses on methods to control crop pests.
"We provide that data so farmers can make more informed decisions," Krupke says. "If we have it, why not share it with those who can use it?"