Insect Resistance

Updated: December 17, 2018

Current Situation

Insect resistance is a serious issue threatening U.S. soybean farmers. Without careful stewardship of existing technologies, farmers could lose access to key tools that allow them to control threatening insect pests.

Chemical control is a valuable strategy for managing harmful insect pests, but it is not the only method for control. In order to reduce the risk of insects developing resistance to insecticides, it is important for farmers to implement integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. IPM includes practices such as scouting and monitoring pests, adjusting row spacing and crop rotation methods to control insects before resorting to chemical control — and choosing insecticides with the least risk when chemical control is necessary. Implementing these practices helps preserve insecticide chemistries and retain them for future use.

Insects and other pests such as spider mites with short lifecycles that produce multiple generations per season are the most susceptible to developing resistance to insecticides. With five to six generations per year among common insect pests, there are more opportunities for resistance to develop, unlike weeds or diseases, which have longer lifecycles. Therefore, it’s critical for farmers to apply insecticides with multiple modes of action to avoid exposing subsequent generations to the same insecticide and opening the door for resistance to develop.

Scouting is an important part of insect resistance management. Scout soon after insecticide application to identify insect pests that survive the first application. Those surviving insects should be removed from the population with a follow-up application using a different mode of action.

Why the Checkoff Cares

Insect resistance costs soybean farmers time and money, impacting their profitability. The soy checkoff encourages farmers to adopt best management practices and steward existing insecticide technologies to enhance the overall sustainability of the U.S. soy crop and avoid potential increased regulations.

Key Points

  • The soy checkoff played a leading role in establishing the Take Action program, an industry-wide partnership to help farmers manage pest resistance.
  • The Take Action industry partnership includes more than 25 universities from seven major row-crop states around the country, seven major pesticide providers, six farmer-led commodity organizations and two industry organizations.
  • The Take Action effort encourages farmers to adopt insect-management practices that lessen the impact of resistance to preserve current and future insect-control technology.
  • Like herbicide resistance, insect resistance is an imminent threat. We’ve seen how costly herbicide resistance can be. It’s time to take steps to curb insect resistance now.
  • Take Action on Insects also partners with the National Corn Growers Association and the Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, providing farmers with the latest information and best management practices to mitigate the financial impacts of insect resistance in Bt corn.

Facts & Figures

According to the Insect Resistance Action Committee:

  • Insect resistance adds an estimated $40 million in additional treatment costs or alternative control methods each year.1
  • More than 500 species of insects have developed resistance to valuable insecticide technologies.2
  • There are approximately 40,000 commercial chemical products on the market today targeted at reducing the damage from insects in all crops. Of these 40,000 products, there are only 200 different active ingredients.3

Resources