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, Erl Svendsen, John Gavloski, Kelly Turkington, Owen Olfert, Meghan Vankosky and Tamara Rounce
This time it’s a BIG Weekly Update – several predictive model updates have been generated this week! Find updated information for bertha armyworm, grasshoppers, cereal leaf beetle, alfalfa weevil, wheat midge and pea leaf weevil. A new Pests & Predators podcast is available and much more. Keep scrolling down and it’s time to get in fields to scout!
This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is barley, an important Prairie cereal (and not just because it’s an essential ingredient for beer). Our feature entomologist this week is John Gavloski (Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development).
Without barley, there would be no beer. And the world wept. Thankfully, plenty of barley is grown on the Prairies, not just for beer but also as feed. Roughly 96% of the barley grown on the Prairies is split equally between Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 2019, total Prairie production on 2.85 million hectares (7.05 million acres) was 9.93 million metric tonnes (10.95 million US tons).
Name: John Gavloski Affiliation: Manitoba Agriculture and Resource DevelopmentContact Information: John.Gavloski@gov.mb.ca, @Johnthebugguy
How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?
I organize annual monitoring programs for diamondback moth, bertha armyworm and grasshoppers in Manitoba. I am also currently monitoring the distribution and levels of cabbage seedpod weevil and pea leaf weevil in Manitoba.
In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?
Grasshoppers, as a group of insects, are quite interesting. In Canada there are about 180 species of grasshoppers, but only a few cause economic damage to crops. I have enjoyed the sights, sounds, and tastes of grasshoppers; yes you read that last part correctly! The pest species like dry conditions. In late-spring or early-summer we often start to see species of grasshoppers with colourful and almost butterfly-like hind wings; when they fly you get flashes of orange, yellow, and black. None of these are pest species, but cool to observe. Others are good mimics, and can blend in with sand, gravel or leaves very well. Late in the summer it is always a treat to hear the singing of grasshoppers, especially the katydids, which are not pests and are usually green with long antennae. And yes, I have eaten grasshoppers, at an entomology conference featuring an insect banquet. I did enjoy them – anything cooked in a flavourful sauce is good, but I suggest removing the wings if you ever try them – too much cuticle. I guess this bout of entomophagy makes me and the other entomologists at the banquet natural enemies of grasshoppers.
What is your favourite beneficial insect?
This is a really tough, as there are so many fascinating beneficial insects! Hover flies are a family of flies (Syrphidae) with many beneficial and interesting attributes. They are predators, pollinators, masters of mimicry, and it is fun to watch the larvae feed. There are 539 species of hover flies in Canada. Adults are good pollinators that are great at mimicking wasps and bees, come in a variety of sizes, and can often be seen hovering near flowers. The slug-like, legless larvae of many hover flies feed on aphids by impaling an aphid with its mouthparts, holding it up, sucking the fluids out of the body, and discarding the exoskeleton. It makes for a great show. I try to raise awareness about hover flies so that people know they are not wasps or bees, cannot sting and are beneficial in many ways.
Tell us about an important project you are working on right now.
I am tracking the distribution and densities of cereal leaf beetle in Manitoba. It was first found in the northwest region of Manitoba in 2009. A small parasitic wasp called Tetrastichus julis was introduced shortly after cereal leaf beetles were detected. I have been tracking the spread and densities of both the pest and the parasitoid across Manitoba. Cereal leaf beetle larvae are sent to AAFC-Lethbridge where they are dissected to determine the level of parasitism. If the level is low, parasitoids are sent to me for release in Manitoba in areas where they may be lacking. I will be assessing levels of cereal leaf beetle larvae again this year, and hopefully releasing more wasps if needed.
What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?
I enjoy doing presentations for academics, producers, agronomists, and the general public. I co-produce the Manitoba Crop Pest Update from May through August. This is an opportunity to communicate current types and levels of insect activity in Manitoba. I like producing factsheets, for pests and beneficial insects, that are available on our department’s website. An information campaign that has been fun to contribute to is “Field Heroes”, which provides information to help raise awareness and provide information about beneficial insects. Until several of the rural newspapers in Manitoba closed recently, I produced a monthly column called “Incredible Creatures” that several of the rural newspapers carried.