Insect of the Week – The new canola flower midge (Contarinia brassicola, Diptera: Cecidomyiidae)

Boyd Mori and Meghan Vankosky
Week 11

This week’s Insect of the week is a new find on the prairies, tentatively called the canola flower midge, Contarinia brassicola (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae). The canola flower midge has been found throughout central Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Swan River Valley in Manitoba. The female lays eggs on developing canola flower buds. Upon hatching, the larvae feed within the developing flower and cause the formation of a “pop-bottle”-shaped gall. To date, this is the only damage associated with the midge, and it has been minimal across the prairies.

Adult canola flower midges appear similar to swede midge (Contarinia nasturtii). They are tiny, delicate flies, 2-5 mm in size. They can be differentiated from swede midge based on the appearance of the female antennae, the damage symptoms they produce and genetically.

Many thanks to Scott Meers and Shelley Barkley (Alberta Agriculture and Forestry) for organizing the Alberta surveys for the canola flower midge.  

Submitted by Dr. Boyd Mori and Dr. Meghan Vankosky

Find out more about the insect pests that plague your crops and the natural enemies that keep them in check at the Insect of the Week page!

“Pop-bottle”-shaped galls created by the canola flower midge.
(c) 2016 Boyd Mori, AAFC

Weekly Update

Jennifer Otani, Ross Weiss, David Giffen, Boyd Mori, Meghan Vankosky, Erl Svendsen and Owen Olfert
Week 11


Field crop entomologists across the prairies are on the move with surveying and at field events.  Access the complete Weekly Update either as a series of Posts for Week 11 (July 19, 2018) OR a downloadable PDF version.  Also review the “Insect of the Week” for Week 11!

Questions or problems accessing the contents of this Weekly Update?  Please e-mail either Dr. Meghan Vankosky or Jennifer Otani.  Past “Weekly Updates” can be accessed on our Weekly Update page.

Subscribe to the Blog by following these three steps!


Weather synopsis

Ross Weiss, David Giffen, Owen Olfert and Meghan Vankosky
Week 11

Weather synopsis – This past week (July 9 – 16, 2018), the average temperature (16.7 °C) was almost 2 °C warmer than last week and marginally warmer than long term average values (Fig. 1). Once again, the warmest weekly temperatures occurred across MB. The 30-day (June 16 – July 16, 2018) average temperature (15.8 °C) was just slightly above long term average temperatures.  

Figure 1.  Weekly (July 9 – 16, 2018) average temperature (°C) . 

Weekly and 30-day total precipitation was less than average (Figs. 2 and 3).  The wettest region (30-day cumulative precipitation) was across eastern areas in Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba while western Saskatchewan and most of Alberta continue to be dry.

Figure 2.  Weekly (July 9 – 16, 2018) cumulative precipitation (mm).
Figure 3.  The 30-day (June 16 – July 16, 2018) cumulative precipitation (mm).

The map below reflects the Highest Temperatures occurring over the past 7 days (July 11-17, 2018) across the prairies and is available from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Fig. 4). 

Figure 4. Highest temperature across the Canadian prairies the past seven days (July 11-17, 2018). Image has not been reproduced in affiliation with, or with the endorsement of the Government of Canada and was retrieved (18Jul2018).  Access the full map at

The map below reflects the Lowest Temperatures occurring over the past 7 days (July 11-17, 2018) across the prairies and is available from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Fig. 5).

Figure 5.  Lowest temperature across the Canadian prairies the past seven days (July 11-17, 2018). Image has not been reproduced in affiliation with, or with the endorsement of the Government of Canada and was retrieved (18Jul2018).  Access the full map at

The growing degree day map (GDD) (Base 10ºC, March 1 – July 15, 2018) is below:

The growing degree day map (GDD) (Base 5ºC, March 1 – July 15, 2018) 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.


Predicted grasshopper development

Ross Weiss, Owen Olfert and Meghan Vankosky
Week 11

Grasshopper Simulation Model Output – The grasshopper simulation model will be used to monitor grasshopper development across the prairies. Weekly temperature data collected across the prairies is incorporated into the simulation model which calculates estimates of grasshopper development stages based on biological parameters for Melanoplus sanguinipes (Migratory grasshopper).  

As of July 16, 2018, the model output indicated that the average instar stage was 4.9, with populations being primarily comprised of fifth instar stage (37%) or adults (33%) (Fig. 1). 

Figure 1. Grasshopper development (average instar) based on model simulations, for April 1 – July 16, 2018.

Development is predicted to be more advanced across the southern prairies; primarily fifth instar stages and adults near Lethbridge AB and Saskatoon SK than in the Peace River region where they are predicted to be mainly fourth and fifth instar stages (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Predicted grasshopper phenology at Saskatoon (A), Lethbridge (B) and Grande Prairie (C).
Values are based on model simulations, for April 1 – July 16, 2018
Figure 3.  Clearwinged grasshopper stages including egg, first to fifth instar stages and adult (left to right).

Grasshopper Scouting Steps: 

  • Measure off a distance of 50 m on the level road surface and mark both starting and finishing points using markers or specific posts on the field margin.
  • Starting at one end in either the field or the roadside and walk toward the other end of the 50 m making some disturbance with your feet to encourage any grasshoppers to jump. 
  • Grasshoppers that jump/fly through the field of view within a one meter width in front of the observer are counted. 
  • A meter stick can be carried as a visual tool to give perspective for a one meter width.  However, after a few stops one can often visualize the necessary width and a meter stick may not be required. Also, a hand-held counter can be useful in counting while the observer counts off the required distance. 
  • At the end point the total number of grasshoppers is divided by 50 to give an average per meter. For 100 m, repeat this procedure. 

● Compare counts to the following damage levels associated with pest species of grasshoppers:

0-2  per m² – None to very light damage

2-4  per m² – Very light damage

4-8  per m² – Light damage

8-12 per m² – Action threshold in cereals and canola

12-24 per m² – Severe damage 

>24 per m² – Very severe damage

* For lentils at flowering and pod stages, >2 per m² will cause yield loss.

* For flax at boll stages, >2 per m² will cause yield loss.

Biological and monitoring information related to grasshoppers in field crops is posted by Manitoba AgricultureSaskatchewan AgricultureAlberta Agriculture and Forestry, the BC Ministry of Agriculture and the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network.  Also refer to the grasshopper pages within the new “Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and management field guide” as an English-enhanced or French-enhanced version.


Wheat midge

Ross Weiss, David Giffen, Owen Olfert and Meghan Vankosky
Week 11

Wheat Midge (Sitodiplosis mosellana– The warm, moist conditions in Manitoba are predicted to be favourable for emergence of adults (Fig. 1) while dry conditions in Alberta and Saskatchewan should result in reduced emergence (Fig. 2). 

Figure 1. Predicted wheat midge emerged based on degree-days accumulated across the Canadian prairies (as of July 15, 2018).
Figure 2. Percent wheat midge in the early larval stage based on model simulations for April 1 – July 16, 2018.

In Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan, populations should be primarily in the early larval stage (80%). Model runs for Saskatoon indicate the midge development, as a result of dryer conditions in June, is slower than predicted emergence at Brandon and Edmonton (Fig. 3). 

Figure 3. Predicted wheat midge phenology at Brandon, Saskatoon, and Edmonton.
Values are based on model simulations, for April 1 – July 16, 2018.


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. 

Click here to review the 2018 wheat midge forecast map.  

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.  Additionally, more information 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.


Lygus in canola

Ross Weiss, Owen Olfert and Meghan Vankosky
Week 11

Lygus bugs (Lygus spp.) – As of July 16, 2018, the model output indicates that Lygus populations range from first instar stage to adults with most populations being comprised mainly of fifth instar stage and adult stages (Fig. 1). 

Figure 1. Lygus development (average instar) based on model simulations, for April 1 – July 16, 2018.

Warmer temperatures have resulted in more rapid development in southern Manitoba and southeast Saskatchewan. Model runs were conducted for Saskatoon, Lethbridge and Grande Prairie to compare site specific development. The Lygus model output suggests that populations in Lethbridge and Saskatoon should be primarily comprised of fifth instar and  adult stages while populations near Grande Prairie are predicted to be comprised of fourth and fifth instar stages with adults beginning to appear (Fig. 2) 

Figure 2. Predicted Lygus phenology at Saskatoon, Lethbridge and Grande Prairie.
Values are based on model simulations, for April 1 – July 16, 2018.

Remember – 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.


Bertha armyworm

Jennifer Otani
Week 11

Bertha armyworm (Lepidoptera: Mamestra configurata– Pheromone trapping across the prairies is almost complete for the 2018 growing season but now it is important to scout for larvae feeding on leaves.


  • 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:  

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 instar stages 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.

Albertans can access the online reporting map (screenshot below retrieved 18Jul2018 for reference):

Saskatchewan growers can check the 2018 bertha armyworm map (screenshot below retrieved 18Jul2018 for reference):

Manitoban growers can find bertha armyworm updates in that province’s Insect and Disease Updates.  The July 11th update summarized that, “out of the 99 traps, 93 currently have cumulative counts in the low risk category (less than 300), and six traps are in the uncertain risk category.  Most of the highest cumulative counts so far are in the western part of Manitoba. Trap counts in eastern Manitoba and the Interlake have generally been quite low.”

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 11

Cabbage seedpod weevil (Ceutorhynchus obstrictus) –  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.

Albertan growers can report and check the online map for CSPW posted by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (screenshot provided below for reference; retrieved 18Jul2018).

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


Cabbage root maggot

Jennifer Otani
Week 11

Cabbage root maggot (Delia spp.) – 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.


West Nile Virus and Culex tarsalis

David Giffen, Owen Olfert and Meghan Vankosky
Week 11

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.  Areas highlighted yellow then orange are approaching sufficient heat accumulation for mosquitoes to emerge while mosquitoes will be flying in areas in red so wear DEET to stay protected! 

Health Canada posts information related to West Nile Virus in Canada.  Health Canada also tracks WNV through humanmosquitobird and horse surveillance.  Link here to access the most current weekly update (June 30, 2018) on 2018 testing (screenshot retrieved 18Jul2018 provided below for reference only).

Reminder – The 2017 WNV surveillance map for human cases is available here but a screenshot is posted below for reference.

Figure 1.  As of surveillance week 49, ending December 9, 2017, the preliminary data indicated 197 human cases of WNV in Canada; twenty-five from Québec, 159 from Ontario, five from Manitoba, seven from Alberta, and one from British Columbia.

The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative compiles and posts information related to their disease surveillance for West Nile Virus in birds.  As of June 28, 2018, 642 birds were examined and zero have tested positive for West Nile virus


Provincial Insect Pest Reports

James Tansey, John Gavloski and Scott Meers
Week 11

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

Manitoba‘s Insect and Disease Updates for 2018 can be accessed here. Issue #7 (posted July 11, 2018) notes monitoring is underway for grasshoppers, armyworms in some cereal fields but no soybean aphids reported yet. Also find a summary of cumulative bertha armyworm counts from pheromone traps for 2018.

Saskatchewan‘s Crop Production News for 2018 is posted with Issue #4 now available. This issue includes a report from the Crop Protection Lab summarizing disease and insect samples submitted this growing season. Notable insects submitted so far include Enchytraeids, barley thrips, and red bugs identified as soft-winged flower beetles (Collops sp.) and white-margined burrower bugs (Sehirus cinctus). Growers can review articles on how to scout for cutworms, how to assess plant stand densities in flax or canola, and for flea beetles, pea leaf weevils. Also note the following diamondback moth pheromone trap interception counts from across the regions (updated June 27, 2018):

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Call of the Land regularly includes insect pest updates from Scott Meers. The most recent Call of the Land (posted July 12, 2018) identified that SOME bertha armyworm pheromone traps over a wide geographic range have started to intercept higher numbers of moths. This means in-field scouting will be critical in 10-14 days (as larvae move up from leaves to feed among canola pods). Processing of canola survey samples has begun; initial samples suggest lower diamondback moth and Lygus bug numbers so far compared to 2017 but higher numbers of small parasitoid wasps associated with diamondback moths, and a pocket of grasshoppers (clearwinged) near Carmangay AB.


Previous Posts

Jennifer Otani
Week 11

The following is a list of 2018 Posts – click to review:

Abundant parasitoids in canola – Week 10

Alfalfa weevil – Week 6

Cabbage seedpod weevil – Week 8 
Cereal aphid manager (CAM) – Week 2
Cereal leaf beetle – Week 5
Cereal leaf beetle larvae request – Week 8
Crop protection guides – Week 2
Crop reports – Week 8
Cutworms – Week 4

Diamondback moth – Week 7
Download the field guide – Week 10

Field heroes – Week 8
Flea beetles – Week 4

Monarch migration – Week 8

Pea leaf weevil – Week 8
PMRA Pesticide Label Mobile App – Week 4

Scouting charts (canola and flax) – Week 3

Ticks and Lyme Disease – Week 4

Weather radar – Week 3
Wind trajectories – Week 6
Wireworm distribution maps – Week 6
White grubs in fields – Week 8