Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) have been working together to study the potential of trajectories for monitoring insect movements since the late 1990s.
Jennifer Otani, Ross Weiss, Serge Trudel, Tamara Rounce, Erl Svendsen, Owen Olfert and Meghan Vankosky
This week cutworms, flea beetles, diamondback moths, grasshopper nymphs, alfalfa weevil larvae and bertha armyworm pheromone-baited traps will be going out – a busy week! Several economic pests Canadian growers contend with are now developing into the more damaging stages so get in to those fields!
This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is dry bean, one of a number of important Prairie pulse crops. Our feature entomologist this week is Jennifer Otani (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada).
Dry bean, an important pulse crop, has seen modest but steady gains over the last five years. On the Prairies, Manitoba leads in both area (71%) and production (60%) (2019, StatsCan). Total Prairie production was 184,200 tonnes (203,046 US tons) on 96,000 hectares (237,400 acres).
How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?
The Pest Management Program based at the Beaverlodge Research Farm monitors and studies economic insect pests in annual crops, perennial grasses and legumes grown for seed. Our projects have focused on monitoring Lygus and root maggots in canola, red clover casebearer and clover-feeding weevils in clover seed production systems, and wheat midge. The program also monitors pests and beneficial insects in canola, alfalfa, wheat, clovers and grasses grown throughout the BC and Alberta portions of the Peace River region. Data collection supports the development of integrated pest management strategies suited to the region and supports regional and provincial insect pest surveillance and growers. I am the co-chair of the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network, and have supported the Network for many years as a researcher, collaborator, and editor for the PPMN’s Weekly Update and Blog.
In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?
I have two – one that’s kept me employed and one that scares me! Lygus bugscontinue to intrigue on so many levels. There are several species (a “complex”), that are native to the Canadian prairies. They affect a diverse range of plants and they can adjust to a region by producing more or less generations per season. My other favourite is the red clover casebearer (Coleophora deauratella) – I have tremendous respect for any larva that carries its home around and can chew through plexiglass glue to escape from cages!
What is your favourite beneficial insect?
I love dragonflies – both the aquatic and aerial life stages are simply amazing! Dragonflies are important indicators of ecosystem health. Both the nymphs and adults are fierce predators. I’m also tremendously fond of the Peristenus formerly known as Otaniaea. After years of collecting, rearing and forwarding beautiful specimens to support Dr. Henri Goulet’s work to revise the genus, he generously named this native braconid parasitoid after me. The species was later synonymized but, after so many years studying this pest-parasitoid complex, I’m still very honoured to have a beneficial wasp that attacks Lygus linked to my name!
Tell us about an important project you are working on right now.
Our program continues to work towards making the most of our samples by addressing species of both pest and beneficial insects. We are fortunate to work in a variety of host crops including canola, wheat, peas, alfalfa, creeping red fescue, plus red and alsike clover. This growing season, we now have an enhanced opportunity to continue more of this work in perennial grasses and legumes grown for seed. It’s important because perennials grown for seed, turf and forage markets are common throughout the region with fields remaining in crop 3-5 years and they may be an important reservoir for beneficial insects who traverse beyond field edges. Projects like these, involving our long-term monitoring and surveying research in both annual and perennial field crops, produce data sets we can direct towards the first iteration of the Beneficial Insects project lead by Dr. Haley Catton. We are working to make multiple years of canola survey data, some of our field plot data, and portions of our natural enemies data available to better define interactions and the economic value associated with the interaction of pests and beneficial insects in our fields.
What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?
In addition to normal project reporting and publishing results, I actively support tech-transfer events at regional, provincial and national levels. The Pest Management Program has an unofficial lab Blog (http://insectpestmanagement.blogspot.com) to help communicate our activities to producer-cooperators, collaborators and potential students. I am also responsible for the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network (prairiepest.ca) which is a vital tool used to communicate with the Canadian agricultural industry. I also communicate using Twitter (@Bugs5132) during the growing season to highlight our research activities and the PPMN, often with the hashtags #PPMNblog and #WestCdnAg.