Weekly Update

Jennifer Otani, Ross Weiss, Serge Trudel, Tamara Rounce, Erl Svendsen, Kelly Turkington, Owen Olfert and Meghan Vankosky
Week 3

A bit of sun, some snow, some rain, a bit too hot and still too cold in other areas – typical spring weather for our prairie producers!

This week the incredible team working to provide weather-related data for PPMN forecasting is coping with technical difficulties so several of the normal updates are not available but stay tuned!

Access information to support your in-field insect monitoring efforts in the complete Weekly Update either as a series of Posts for Week 3 OR  a downloadable PDF.

Stay Safe!

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


Wheat Pests / Feature Entomologist: Dr. Meghan Vankosky

Finch Van Baal
Week 3

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is wheat (durum, spring and winter) and Dr. Meghan Vankosky is our starring entomologist.

Wheat is King on the Prairies and has been since the early 1900s (with recent rivalry for top spot by canola, the Queen of the Prairies). There are many challenges to overcome: droughts, pests, soils and agronomy and scientists and extension specialists have been working alongside farmers to improve the genetics, production practices, equipment and infrastructure. In 2019, despite weather challenges, the area seeded to wheat and the harvest remains impressive:

Area Seeded

Durum:  1,980,200 hectares (4,893,400 acres)
Spring wheat 7,443,500 hectares (18,393,300 acres)
Winter wheat 91,000 hectares (224,900 acres)
Total: 9,514,700 hectares (23,511,600 acres)


Durum: 4,977,000 tonnes (182,872,000 bushels)
Spring wheat: 25,111,000 tonnes (922,672,000 bushels)
Winter wheat: 265,100 tonnes (9,705,000 bushels)
Total: 30,352,100 tonnes (1,115,249,000 bushels)

There are over 30 economic wheat pests. Identification, monitoring and scouting protocols, and management options are found in the Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crop on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field guide. More detailed protocols exist for some of the pests. In the case of cereal aphids (English, oat-bird cherry, greenbug), AAFC developed the Cereal Aphid Manager app to help with identification and management decisions.

Wheat Pests
  • Army cutworm
  • Armyworm
  • Aster leafhopper
  • Black grass bugs
  • Brown marmorated stink bug
  • Brown wheat mite
  • Cereal leaf beetle
  • Chinch bug
  • Corn leaf aphid
  • Darksided cutworm
  • Dingy cutworm
  • English grain aphid
  • Fall armyworm
  • Fall field cricket
  • Glassy cutworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green-tan grass bugs
  • Greenbugs
  • Haanchen barley mealybug
  • Hessian fly
  • Mormon cricket
  • Oat-birdcherry aphid
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Redbacked cutworm
  • Rice leaf bug
  • Russian leaf aphid
  • Say stink bug
  • Variegated cutworm
  • Wheat curl mite
  • Wheat head armyworm
  • Wheat midge
  • Wheat stem maggot
  • Wheat stem sawfly
  • Wireworms
Wheat midge – Dr. Bob Elliot, AAFC


Name: Meghan Vankosky
Affiliation: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Contact Information: meghan.vankosky@agr.gc.ca, @vanbugsky

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies? 

I am a co-chair of the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network. In addition to participating in insect monitoring of cabbage seedpod weevil, pea leaf weevil, and grasshoppers, I help provide supplies for diamondback moth, swede midge, and bertha armyworm monitoring across the prairies. In addition to the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network, I am involved with the Canadian Plant Health Council in the Surveillance Working Group and a member of the new AAFC Prairie Biovigilance Network.

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

The pea leaf weevil is very interesting. I started researching pest management options for pea leaf weevil during my MSc program in 2008. We are still working on this pest and learning so much about it. I like working with this species because it is usually easy to find specimens for lab work, they are fairly large (by insect standards) which makes them easy to handle, and I have to admit that they are kind of cute – for a pest. 

What is your favourite beneficial insect? 

Parasitoids in general are very cool. I spent a year in southern California working on a biological control program for Asian citrus psyllid. During that time, I worked with two parasitoids and studied how they interact with each other and their host. Of the two, I worked most with Diaphorencyrtus aligarhensis. It is an endoparsitoid that lays its eggs inside its host and kills the host from the inside out. There are many interesting parasitoids on the prairies that help manage field crop pests and I look forward learning more about them.

Tell us about an important project you are working on right now. 

I just finished two projects (co-led by Dr. Boyd Mori) studying the newly discovered canola flower midge (Contarinia brassicola). We are currently working on writing papers to describe our work, but in three years we learned a great deal about the distribution of this insect in western Canada, its development, population genetics, and potential impact on canola production. 

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders? 

I use the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network Blog (soon to be website), Twitter, and extension events to communicate research and insect monitoring results. I am getting better about using Twitter, both in terms of posting and replying, and am looking forward to helping with #abbugchat in 2020.