The picture shown above is not a rocket, and it's not an artillery piece. It's actually a specialized suction trap designed to capture various aphid species, including soybean aphid. A network of these traps, coupled with observations from field scouting, will be used to monitor soybean aphid populations throughout the summer.
Soybean aphids overwinter on buckthorn, which is a woody ornamental shrub that has escaped cultivation to become an invasive plant in the northern part of Illinois and other states to our north. Due to the small amount of buckthorn found in southern Illinois, soybean aphids do not appear to overwinter here in significant numbers. In order to get here they must be blown south on storm fronts coming from the north.....not the typical path of most weather fronts passing through our region. As a result, southern Illinois has escaped serious soybean aphid infestations in most years, with the notable exception of 2009 when widespread infestations and damage occurred.
A recent Bulletin article by Dr. Mike Gray indicates that researchers are finding unusually large numbers of soybean aphids early in the season in Michigan, with somewhat lower numbers being found in Wisconsin and Minnesota. While it is still much too early to predict if southern Illinois will have a soybean aphid problem this summer, we are getting some storm fronts moving through the area out of the northwest. In addition, most of the soybeans here have been planted at least a month later than normal, meaning that they will remain in a susceptible growth stage later into the summer than what is normal.