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.
This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is flax, a crop that thrives in cooler environments. Our feature entomologist this week is Boyd Mori.
Flax is a versatile crop grown across the Canadian Prairies, and is used in cooking, animal nutrition, and industrial production. Since 1994 Canada has been the largest flax producer and exporter in the world (Flax Council of Canada, 2020). In 2019 flax was grown on 375,700 hectares (928,500 acres) across the Prairies, producing 483,000 metric tonnes (532,400 US tons). Just under 80% of that total was grown in Saskatchewan.
Name: Boyd Mori Affiliation: Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Alberta Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org twitter: @BoydMori
How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?
I actively participate in the PPMN. In my position at the U of A, I help monitor bertha armyworm and wheat midge at sites in North-Central Alberta.Next year, my research group will have a project that will try to verify the source of diamondback moths captured in pheromone traps. We will also be re-evaluating the wheat midge pheromone monitoring system with Dr. Maya Evenden (U of A). In the past, my former research group (AAFC-Saskatoon) along with Dr. Meghan Vankosky ran the survey for the canola flower midge in SK and MB and I occasionally helped with the pea leaf weevil survey in SK. I have also been involved with verifying some of the monitoring protocols used by all members of the PPMN.
In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?
Probably not a surprise to most, but I am going to have to say the canola flower midge, an insect I helped to recently discover and describe. The canola flower midge was previously mistaken for the swede midge, a significant pest of canola and other cruciferous vegetable crops in Ontario. Luckily, the canola flower midge is not as damaging as the swede midge (at least so far), and we are still trying to determine its overall pest status. What makes it really interesting is that we don’t know where the canola flower midge came from. We don’t know if it is a native or invasive species, although we tend to think it is native to the Prairies. We hypothesize it may have switched hosts to canola as acreage increased over the last 40 years, but we don’t know what is its original host plant was. There is a lot of interesting research to come on this species!
What is your favourite beneficial insect?
I am partial to hover flies (Syrphids). The adult flies are often mistaken for bees due to their colouration, but they are harmless and actually help to pollinate many different plants. The larvae are active predators within crops, feeding on a variety of soft-bodied insects, especially aphids.
Tell us about an important project you are working on right now.
I am currently working on a project with Dr. Hector Carcamo (AAFC-Lethbridge) and Jennifer Otani (AAFC-Beaverlodge) investigating insecticide resistance in alfalfa weevil in southern Alberta. We have identified a few populations with resistance to synthetic pyrethroids and we now have a graduate student, Michelle Reid, whose project will map resistance and also the presence of parasitoids throughout southern Alberta. We don’t see much insecticide resistance on the Prairies compared to other regions of the world, so this is a unique project.
What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?
I enjoy giving presentations, speaking with farmers and actively participating in extension events (e.g., CanolaPalooza, WheatStalk, Crop walks, etc.) and AGMs each year. Results of our work is published by industry magazines, blogs and newsletters. You can also reach me directly via email or Twitter (@BoydMori). Hopefully my research group will have a functional website soon too.