Weekly Update

Julie Soroka, Jennifer Otani, Ross Weiss, Owen Olfert, David Giffen and Erl Svendsen
Week 13


A downloadable PDF version of the complete Weekly Update for Week 13 (July 27, 2016) can be accessed here.  

This edition includes the “Insect of the Week” featuring beneficial arthropods in 2016!

Subscribe to the Blog by following the instructions posted here!  You can receive automatic updates in your inbox through the growing season.

Questions or problems accessing the contents of this Weekly Update?  Please e-mail either Dr. Owen Olfert or Jennifer Otani.  Past “Weekly Updates” are very kindly archived to the Western Forum website by webmaster, Dr. Kelly Turkington.  


Bertha Armyworm

Jennifer Otani
Week 13

Bertha armyworm (Lepidoptera: Mamestra configurata– Reporting sites across the prairies have generally reported lower cumulative interceptions but moderate numbers have been intercepted a few sites within Manitoba and Saskatchewan.  Cumulative counts from pheromone traps are summarized and mapped by provincial staff in ManitobaSaskatchewan and Alberta.  Screen shots of the three maps are provided below:

Manitoba map (screenshot retrieved July 27, 2016):

Saskatchewan map (screenshot retrieved July 13, 2016):

Alberta map (screenshot retrieved July 27, 2016):

Reminder – In-field monitoring for egg masses and newly emerged larvae (photo below) should initially focus on the undersides of leaves plus watch the margins of leaves for feeding.  Bertha armyworm larvae will also feed on newly developing pods so the whole plant should be examined.  Watch for the following life stages:

Scouting tips:
● Some bertha armyworm larvae remain green or pale brown throughout their larval life. 
● Large larvae may drop off the plants and curl up when disturbed, a defensive behavior typical of cutworms and armyworms. 
● Young larvae chew irregular holes in leaves, but normally cause little damage. The fifth and sixth instars cause the most damage by defoliation and seed pod consumption. Crop losses due to pod feeding will be most severe if there are few leaves. 
● Larvae eat the outer green layer of the stems and pods exposing the white tissue. 
● At maturity, in late summer or early fall, larvae burrow into the ground and form pupae.

– Larval sampling should commence once the adult moths are noted. 
– Sample at least three locations, a minimum of 50 m apart. 
– At each location, mark an area of 1 m2 and beat the plants growing within that area to dislodge the larvae. 
– Count them and compare the average against the values in the economic threshold table below:  

Biological and monitoring information related to bertha armyworm in field crops is posted by the provinces of ManitobaSaskatchewanAlberta and the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network.  Also refer to the bertha armyworm pages within the new “Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and management field guide” – both English-enhanced or French-enhanced versions are available.

Cabbage seedpod weevil

Jennifer Otani
Week 13

Cabbage seedpod weevil (Ceutorhynchus obstrictus) –  Reminder – There is one generation of CSPW per year and the overwintering stage is the adult which is an ash-grey weevil measuring 3-4mm long (Refer to lower left photo).  Adults typically overwinter in soil beneath leaf litter within shelter belts and roadside ditches.

 ● Begin sampling when the crop first enters the bud stage and continue through the flowering. 
 ● Sweep-net samples should be taken at ten locations within the field with ten 180° sweeps per location.  
 ● Count the number of weevils at each location. Samples should be taken in the field perimeter as well as throughout the field.  
 ● Adults will invade fields from the margins and if infestations are high in the borders, application of an insecticide to the field margins may be effective in reducing the population to levels below which economic injury will occur.  
 ● An insecticide application is recommended when three to four weevils per sweep are collected and has been shown to be the most effective when canola is in the 10 to 20% bloom stage (2-4 days after flowering starts). 
 ● Consider making insecticide applications late in the day to reduce the impact on pollinators.  Whenever possible, provide advanced warning of intended insecticide applications to commercial beekeepers operating in the vicinity to help protect foraging pollinators.  
 ● High numbers of adults in the fall may indicate the potential for economic infestations the following spring.

Damage: Adult feeding damage to buds is more evident in dry years when canola is unable to compensate for bud loss.  Adults mate following a pollen meal then the female will deposit a single egg through the wall of a developing pod or adjacent to a developing seed within the pod (refer to lower right photo).  Eggs are oval and an opaque white, each measuring ~1mm long.  Typically a single egg is laid per pod although, when CSPW densities are high, two or more eggs may be laid per pod.

There are four larval instar stages of the CSPW and each stage is white and grub-like in appearance ranging up to 5-6mm in length (refer to lower left photo).  The first instar larva feeds on the cuticle on the outside of the pod while the second instar larva bores into the pod, feeding on the developing seeds.  A single larva consumes about 5 canola seeds.  The mature larva chews a small, circular exit hole from which it drops to the soil surface and pupation takes place in the soil within an earthen cell.  Approximately 10 days later, the new adult emerges to feed on maturing canola pods.  Later in the season these new adults migrate to overwintering sites beyond the field.

Please find additional detailed information for CSPW in fact sheets posted by Alberta Agriculture and ForestrySaskatchewan Agriculture, or the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network.

Also watch provincial reports for updates on surveying underway now.  Alberta Agriculture & Forestry has released a new live CSPW map and online reporting tool for growers.  A screenshot (retrieved 27 July 2016) is included below.


Weekly Update – West Nile Virus and Culex tarsalis

David Giffen, Owen Olfert and prairiepest_admin
Week 13

West Nile Virus Risk –  The regions most advanced in degree-day accumulations for Culex tarsalis, the vector for West Nile Virus, are shown in the map below.  As of July 24, 2016areas highlighted in yellow, orange, or red on the map below have accumulated sufficient heat for C. tarsalis to fly so wear your DEET to stay protected!

The Public Health Agency of Canada posts information related to West Nile Virus in Canada.  The map of clinical cases of West Nile Virus in Canada in 2015 is posted while a screen shot is provided below.

The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative compiles and posts information related to their disease surveillance for West Nile Virus.  As of July 27, 2016, 27 birds were submitted for testing yet none have tested positive for West Nile virus. 


Provincial Insect Pest Reports

Scott Hartley, Scott Meers, John Gavloski and prairiepest_admin
Week 13

Provincial entomologists provide insect pest updates throughout the growing season so we have attempted to link to their most recent information: 

– Manitoba’s Insect and Disease Update which includes lygus in canola, wheat midge, and a few sites showing moderate risk levels for bertha armyworm based on phermone trap interceptions (July 27, 2016, prepared by John Gavloski and Pratisara Bajracharya).

– Saskatchewan’s Crop Production News includes descriptions of aphids in field crops plus economic and action thresholds applicable in field peas, lentils, canaryseed, cereals or canola.  Aster yellows have also been observed this season.  Saskatchwan’s surveys and forecasts are also highlighted in Issue 5prepared by Scott Hartley.  Growers should note that the distribution of pea leaf weevil has increased this season in Saskatchewan plus the updated bertha armyworm pheromone map can be accessed in this report.

– Watch for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Call of the Land for updates from Scott Meers  who recently provided an update (posted on July 21, 2016) and noted pea aphid risk in relation to pea and lentil seed maturity, froghoppers in ditches, leafminers in wheat, and reporting the occurrence of aphids in wheat in order to help researchers developing an action threshold.


Insect of the Week – Trichomalus lucidus

Jennifer Otani
Week 13

Cabbage seedpod weevil parasitoids

Last year, the focus of the Beneficial Insect of the Week
 was crop pests. This year, we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the Insect of the Week page] 

Early in the season, cabbage seedpod weevil adults can cause canola flower budblasting as they feed on developing flowers and later in the season, they will feed on pods. However it’s the larvae that cause most of the damage by feeding on developing seeds; infested pods are also more prone to shattering and may have a higher incidence of fungal infections. To the rescue are tiny wasp parasitoids that attack the adults (e.g. Microtonus melanopus) and larvae (e.g. Trichomalus lucidus).

For more information about these natural enemies, other pests they control and other important crop and forage insects, see the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page).

Trichomalus lucidus, a cabbage seedpod weevil parasitoid.
CC 3.0 BY-NC-SA CNC/BIO Photography Group, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario


Weekly Update – Weather Synopsis

Ross Weiss, David Giffen, Owen Olfert and prairiepest_admin
Week 13

Across prairies, the 7-day average cumulative rainfall also brought some strong storms with rain, wind and worse.

The following map reflects the number of days above 25°C across the prairies for the growing season as of July 18, 2016.

The accumulated precipitation for the growing season (April 1-July 24, 2016) is mapped below.

The map below shows the Lowest Temperatures the Past 7 Days (July 20-26, 2016) across the prairies:

The map below shows the Highest Temperatures the Past 7 Days (July 20-26, 2016):

The updated growing degree day map (GDD) (Base 5ºC, March 1 – July 24, 2016) is below:

While the growing degree day map (GDD) (Base 10ºC, March 1 – July 24, 2016) is below:

The maps above are all produced by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.  Growers may wish to bookmark the AAFC Drought Watch Maps for the growing season.

Additional precipitation and temperature data or maps are provided by the following:

Manitoba Agriculture’s Crop Weather Report
Alberta Agriculture and Food’s Weather Stations
Saskatchewan’s Cumulative Precipitation Map
Environment Canada’s Historical Data Interface


Weekly Update – Thrips

Jennifer Otani
Week 13

Thrips in canola (Thynsanoptera) – While surveying for swede midge this week in Saskatchewan, lots of thrips and curled pods were observed.  

Thrips damage observed in canola in the northeast of Saskatchewan in July 2016 (Photo: AAFC-Saskatoon, Olfert 2016).

Damage: Flower thrips (Thysanoptera) are pests of a broad range of plants including cereals and broadleaved crops such as canola. Thrips are minute, slender-bodied insects with rasping-sucking mouthparts and feed by rasping the surface of canola buds and sucking up plant fluids. 

Biology: Thrips have six life stages: egg, two larval stages, a prepupal and pupal stage and an adult. Both adults and nymphs cause damage by feeding on the flower and buds. Limited surveys in 1999 in Saskatchewan and Alberta indicated that the predominant species were Frankliniella tritici (flower thrip) followed by Thrips tabaci (onion thrip) and T. vulgatissimus (no common name).

In canola, pods damaged by thrips are often curled and tend to drop prematurely.  Some species, such as T. vulgatissimus have been credited with contributing to pollination.

Curled pods of canola caused by thrips feeding damage (Photos: AAFC-Saskatoon, Olfert et al. 1998)

Read more about thrips in canola by accessing this article by Olfert et al. 1998). 


Weekly Update – Aphids in canola

Julie Soroka and prairiepest_admin
Week 13

If you encounter aphids in canola, know that it could be one of several species!  The following was kindly offered by Dr. Julie Soroka (Research Scientist Emeritus with AAFC-Saskatoon):

A small survey was conducted in canola in central Saskatchewan in 2014 and 2015 and a few fields were observed with aphids.  When found, over 90% of the aphid colonies were turnip aphid (Lipaphis erysimi).  Of the remainder, more of the generalist feeder, the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae), was found than cabbage aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae).  Interestingly, several of the aphid colonies were infested with the parasitic wasp, Dieretiella rapae!


Weekly Update – Lygus

Jennifer Otani
Week 13

Lygus bugs (Lygus spp.) – Reminder – The economic threshold for Lygus in canola is applied at late flower and early pod stages.  

Adult L. lineolaris (5-6 mm long) (photo: AAFC-Saskatoon).

Fifth instar lygus bug nymph (3-4 mm long) (photo:  AAFC-Saskatoon).

Damage: Lygus bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts and physically damage the plant by puncturing the tissue and sucking plant juices. The plants also react to the toxic saliva that the insects inject when they feed. Lygus bug infestations can cause alfalfa to have short stem internodes, excessive branching, and small, distorted leaves. They feed on buds and blossoms and cause them to drop. They also puncture seed pods and feed on the developing seeds causing them to turn brown and shrivel.

Begin monitoring canola when it bolts and continue until seeds within the pods are firm. Since adults can move into canola from alfalfa, check lygus bug numbers in canola when nearby alfalfa crops are cut.

Sample the crop for lygus bugs on a sunny day when the temperature is above 20°C and the crop canopy is dry. With a standard insect net (38 cm diameter), take ten 180° sweeps. Count the number of lygus bugs in the net.

Repeat the sampling in another 14 locations. Samples can be taken along or near the field margins. Calculate the cumulative total number of lygus bugs and then consult the sequential sampling chart (Figure C). If the total number is below the lower threshold line, no treatment is needed. If the total is below the upper threshold line, take more samples. If the total is on or above the upper threshold line, calculate the average number of lygus bugs per 10-sweep sample and consult the economic threshold table.

Sequential sampling for lygus bugs at late flowering stage in canola.

The economic threshold for lygus bugs in canola covers the end of the flowering (Table 1) and the early pod ripening stages (Table 2). Once the seeds have ripened to yellow or brown, the cost of controlling lygus bugs may exceed the damage they will cause prior to harvest, so insecticide application is not warranted.

Consider the estimated cost of spraying and expected return prior to making a decision to treat a crop. 

Remember that insecticide applications at bud stage in canola have not been proven to result in an economic benefit in production.  The exception to this is in the Peace River region where early, dry springs and unusually high densities of lygus bug adults can occasionally occur at bud stage.  In this situation, high numbers of lygus bugs feeding on moisture-stressed canola at bud stage is suspected to result in delay of flowering so producers in that region must monitor in fields that fail to flower as expected.

Table 1.  Economic thresholds for lygus bugs in canola at late flowering and early pod stages (Wise and Lamb 1998).

1 Canola crop stage estimated using Harper and Berkenkamp 1975).
2 Economic thresholds are based on an assumed loss of 0.1235 bu/ac per lygus bug caught in 10 sweeps (Wise and Lamb. 1998. The Canadian Entomologist. 130: 825-836).

Table 2.  Economic thresholds for lygus bugs in canola at pod stage (Wise and Lamb 1998).

 3 Economic thresholds are based on an assumed loss of 0.0882 bu/ac per lygus bug caught in 10 sweeps (Wise and Lamb. 1998. The Canadian Entomologist. 130: 825-836).

Biological and monitoring information related to Lygus in field crops is posted by the provinces of Manitoba or Alberta fact sheets or the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network’s monitoring protocol.  Also refer to the Lygus pages within the new “Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and management field guide” – both English-enhanced or French-enhanced versions are available.


Weekly Update – Cabbage root maggot

Jennifer Otani and Hugh Philip
Week 13

Cabbage root maggot (Delia spp.) – Reminder – Among root feeding pests of canola, historically five species of Delia flies have been identified across the Canadian prairies;  Delia radicum (L.), D. floralis (Fallén), D. platura (Meigan), D. planipalpis (Stein), and D. florilega (Zett.) have been observed in canola over 30 years of research (Liu and Butts 1982, Griffiths 1986a, Broatch and Vernon 1997; Soroka and Dosdall 2011).  A summary of root maggot biology, research, and pest management recommendations for canola production was published by Soroka and Dosdall (2011).  

Root maggots continue to be a problematic in canola production largely owing to the fact that (i) the species is composition varies by geographic latitude and local conditions, plus (ii) one or two generations per year will occur but varies by species.  The species complex is typically characterized by multiple, overlapping generations of Delia resulting in adults laying eggs in canola (Refer to upper left photo for adult and eggs) from late Spring to October and maggots feeding on roots from late rosette until late fall (Refer to upper right photo).  Root maggots pupate and overwinter within cigar-shaped, reddish-brown puparia 5-20 cm below the soil surface (Soroka and Dosdall 2011) so canola-on-canola rotations should be avoided.  In the spring, adults emerge from mid-May to mate and females lay oval, white eggs singly or in batches near the base of cruciferous host plants over a 5-6 week period.  The larvae develop through three instar stages which feed on root hairs then secondary roots initially whereas older maggots will feed into the taproot of a canola plant.  

Refer to the root maggot pages within the new “Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and management field guide” – both English-enhanced or French-enhanced versions are available.


Weekly Update – Wheat midge

Ross Weiss, David Giffen, Owen Olfert and prairiepest_admin
Week 13

Wheat Midge (Sitodiplosis mosellana– Predictive modelling will be used again to help  forecast wheat midge emergence across the Canadian prairies.  The map below predicts the geographic distribution and corresponding accumulation of heat units necessary for wheat midge to emerge from puparia developing in the soil.  

When monitoring wheat fields, pay attention to the synchrony between flying midge and anthesis.  

In-field monitoring for wheat midge should be carried out in the evening (preferably after 8:30 pm or later) when the female midges are most active. On warm (at least 15ºC), calm evenings, the midge can be observed in the field, laying their eggs on the wheat heads (photographed by AAFC-Beav-S. Dufton & A. Jorgensen below). Midge populations can be estimated by counting the number of adults present on 4 or 5 wheat heads. Inspect the field daily in at least 3 or 4 locations during the evening.

REMEMBER that in-field counts of wheat midge per head remain the basis of economic threshold decision.  Also remember that the parasitoid, Macroglenes penetrans (photographed by AAFC-Beav-S. Dufton below), is actively searching for wheat midge at the same time.  Preserve this parasitoid whenever possible and remember your insecticide control options for wheat midge also kill these beneficial insects which help reduce midge populations.

Economic Thresholds for Wheat Midge:
a) To maintain optimum grade: 1 adult midge per 8 to 10 wheat heads during the susceptible stage.

b) For yield only: 1 adult midge per 4 to 5 heads. At this level of infestation, wheat yields will be reduced by approximately 15% if the midge is not controlled.

Inspect the developing kernels for the presence of larvae and the larval damage. 

Wheat growers in Alberta can access mapped cumulative counts from wheat midge pheromone traps.  A screen shot of the map is provided below (retrieved 27Jul2016).

Additional information related to wheat midge biology and monitoring can be accessed by linking to your provincial fact sheet (Saskatchewan Agriculture or Alberta Agriculture & Forestry).  A review of wheat midge on the Canadian prairies was published by Elliott, Olfert, and Hartley in 2011.

More information about Wheat midge can be found by accessing the pages from the new “Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Field Guide”.  View ONLY the Wheat midge pages but remember the guide is available as a free downloadable document as both an English-enhanced or French-enhanced version.

Weekly Update – Alfalfa weevil

David Giffen and prairiepest_admin
Week 13

Alfalfa Weevil (Hypera postica) – Descriptions related to the biology, monitoring and management of this insect can be reviewed on Week 12’s Post.  

For the week of July 27, 2016, the following map predicts that sufficient heat units have accumulated across the prairies for alfalfa weevils to be present. 

Economic thresholds for Alfalfa weevil (adapted from Soroka 2015) vary by crop type (hay or seed), area fed upon and larval densities.

Reminder – In alfalfa seed fields:
● Economic thresholds are 20-25 third to fourth instar larvae per sweep or 35-50% of the foliage tips showing damage. 
● Thresholds increase with the height of the alfalfa, and decrease in drought conditions. 
● Also know that several small wasps parasitize alfalfa weevil larvae and adults, and in the past these natural control agents kept the weevil in check in most years. One of these wasps, Bathyplectes curculionis (Thomson), parasitizes alfalfa weevil in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and is now found in Manitoba.


Weekly Update – Previous Posts

Jennifer Otani
Week 13

The following is a list of previous 2016 Posts – click to review:

Bertha armyworm development and flight

Bertha armyworm monitoring

Canola scouting chart
Cereal leaf beetle
Crop protection guides

Diamondback moth

Environment Canada’s radar maps to follow precipitation events

Flea beetles in canola


Iceburg reports
Insects in our diet

Monarch migration

Pea leaf weevil monitoring

Predicted lygus bug development
Predicted wheat midge development

Swede midge

Weather Synopsis (Week 12)
Wind trajectories