Ross Weiss, Tamara Rounce, David Giffen, Jennifer Otani and Meghan Vankosky
TEMPERATURE: Though recent temperatures have been warmer than normal, the 2022 growing season across the prairies continues to be cooler than average. This past week (July 4-10, 2022) the average daily temperature for the prairie region was 2.5 °C warmer than last week. The warmest temperatures were observed across the southern prairies, particularly southeastern Saskatchewan and Manitoba (Fig. 1). The prairie-wide average 30-day temperature (June 11 – July 10, 2022) was 1 °C warmer than the long-term average value. Average temperatures have been warmest across the southern prairies, particularly in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (Fig. 2).
The average growing season (April 1-July 10, 2022) temperature for the prairies has been 0.5 °C cooler than climate normal values. The growing season has been warmest across a region than extends from Lethbridge to Regina and Saskatoon as well as southern Manitoba (Fig. 3).
PRECIPITATION: Weekly (July 4-10, 2022) rainfall varied across the prairies. The highest rainfall amounts were reported across central Alberta and southern Saskatchewan (Fig. 4). The Peace River region and central Saskatchewan reported rainfall amounts that were generally less than 10 mm. The 30-day (June 11 – July 10, 2022) rainfall accumulation amounts have been well above average for Alberta, near normal to above normal across Manitoba, and well below normal for Saskatchewan (Fig. 5).
Growing season rainfall for April 1 – July 10, 2022, continues to be greatest across Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan; cumulative rainfall amounts have been lower for central and western regions of Saskatchewan and Alberta (Fig. 6).
Ross Weiss, Tamara Rounce, David Giffen, Owen Olfert, Jennifer Otani and Meghan Vankosky
Soil moisture conditions in May and June can have significant impacts on wheat midge emergence. Where wheat midge cocoons are present in soil, the 2022 growing season’s rainfall during May and June should be sufficient to terminate diapause and induce the larvae to move to the soil surface.
The following maps represent predicted regional estimates of wheat midge development. Remember – the rate of development and timing of adult midge emergence varies at the field level and can only be verified through in-field scouting. Midge flight coinciding with the beginning of anthesis is a crucial point when in-field counts of adults on plants are carefully compared to the economic thresholds!
As of July 10, 2022 and where wheat midge is present, model simulations predict that pupae, adults, and eggs are present in wheat fields across the prairies. Differences in wheat midge development are attributed to rainfall differences across the prairies. Due to drier conditions in May and June, wheat midge development was delayed across most of Alberta. Alberta populations should be predominantly in the pupal stage (Fig. 1).
The appearance of adults is predicted to increase across all three provinces (Fig. 2). Optimal rain in May and June across Saskatchewan and Manitoba has resulted in development rates that are greater than those predicted for Alberta. The simulation indicates that oviposition has begun across eastern Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Peace River region and north-western Alberta (Fig. 3). Larvae may be in wheat heads in a region south of Winnipeg.
Adults may be occurring when wheat is most susceptible. Adults and eggs (top panel) are predicted to occur when wheat is heading (bottom panel) for fields near Regina, Saskatchewan (Fig. 3). Phenology simulations suggest that wheat may be susceptible for the next two weeks.
In-Field Monitoring:When scouting 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 15 ºC), calm evenings, the midge can be observed in the field, laying their eggs on the wheat heads (Fig. 5). 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 the economic threshold decision. Also remember that the parasitoid, Macroglenes penetrans (Fig. 6), is actively searching for wheat midge at the same time. Preserve this parasitoid whenever possible and remember insecticide control options for wheat midge also kill these beneficial insects who help reduce midge populations.
Economic Thresholds for Wheat Midge: a) To maintain optimum No. 1 grade: 1 adult midge per 8 to 10 wheat heads during the susceptible stage. b) To maintain 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 larval damage.
Wheat midge was featured as the Insect of the Week in 2021 (for Wk07). Be sure to also review wheat midge and its doppelganger, the lauxanid fly, featured as the Insect of the Week in 2019 (for Wk11) – find descriptions and photos to help with in-field scouting! Additionally, the differences between midges and parasitoid wasps were featured as the Insect of the Week in 2019 (for Wk12). Remember – not all flying insects are mosquitoes nor are they pests! Many are important parasitoid wasps that actually regulate insect pest species in our field crops OR pollinators that perform valuable ecosystem services!
Additional information can be accessed by reviewing the Wheat midge pages extracted from the “Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Field Guide” (2018) accessible as a free downloadable PDF in either English or French on our new Field Guides page.
Ross Weiss, Tamara Rounce, David Giffen, Owen Olfert, Jennifer Otani and Meghan Vankosky
The grasshopper (Acrididae: Melanoplus sanguinipes) model predicts development using biological parameters known for the pest species and environmental data observed across the Canadian prairies on a daily basis. Model outputs provided below as geospatial maps are a tool to help time in-field scouting on a regional scale but local development can vary and is only accurately assessed through in-field scouting.
SCOUT NOW – Some areas of the Canadian prairies are presently experiencing high densities of nymphs and economically important species are present. Review lifecycle and damage information for this pest to support in-field scouting.
Warm, dry conditions across southern and central regions of the prairies have advanced grasshopper development. Model simulations were used to estimate grasshopper development as of July 10, 2022. Based on estimates of average nymphal development, populations are predicted to consist of primarily 4th and 5th instar stages across all three prairie provinces (Fig. 1). Across most of the prairies, grasshopper development is predicted to be similar to average values; development is delayed across southern Manitoba (Fig. 2).
Ross Weiss, Tamara Rounce, David Giffen, Owen Olfert, Jennifer Otani and Meghan Vankosky
Diamondback moths (DBM; Plutella xylostella) are a migratory invasive species. Each spring adult populations migrate northward to the Canadian prairies on wind currents from infested regions in the southern or western U.S.A. Upon arrival to the prairies, migrant diamondback moths begin to reproduce and this results in subsequent non-migrant populations that may have three or four generations during the growing season.
Model simulations to July 10, 2022, indicate the second generation of non-migrant adults (based on mid-May arrival dates) are currently occurring across the Canadian prairies (Fig. 1). DBM development is predicted to be similar to long-term average development for this time of the growing season (Fig. 2).
Spring Pheromone Trap Monitoring of Adult Males: Across the Canadian prairies, spring monitoring is initiated to acquire weekly counts of adult moths attracted to pheromone-baited delta traps deployed in fields. Weekly trap interceptions are observed to generate cumulative counts. Summaries or maps of cumulative DBM data are available for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. These cumulative count estimates are broadly categorized to help producers prioritize and time in-field scouting for larvae.
In-Field Monitoring:Remove plants in an area measuring 0.1 m² (about 12″ square), beat them onto a clean surface and count the number of larvae (Fig. 2) dislodged from the plant. Repeat this procedure at least in five locations in the field to get an accurate count.
The economic threshold for diamondback moth in canola at the advanced pod stage is 20 to 30 larvae/ 0.1 m² (approximately 2-3 larvae per plant). Economic thresholds for canola or mustard in the early flowering stage are not available. However, insecticide applications are likely required at larval densities of 10 to 15 larvae/ 0.1 m² (approximately 1-2 larvae per plant).
ALBERTA’SInsect Pest Monitoring Network webpage links to insect survey maps, live feed maps, insect trap set-up videos, and more. There is also a Major Crops Insect webpage. The new webpage does not replace the Insect Pest Monitoring Network page. Remember, AAF’s Agri-News occasionally includes insect-related information. Twitter users can connect to #ABBugChat Wednesdays at 10:00 am. • Wheat midge pheromone monitoring update for AB – Cumulative counts arising from weekly data are available on this Live Map. • Cabbage seedpod weevil monitoring update for AB – Cumulative counts arising from weekly data are available on this Live Map. • Bertha armyworm pheromone trap monitoring update for AB – Cumulative counts arising from weekly data are available on this Live Map.
Thrips (used for both singular and plural) are members of the Order Thysanoptera. Even more confusing, there is also a genus of thrips named Thrips. That is, all Thrips are thrips but not all thrips are Thrips!
Thrips are characterized by small size (the largest species is only 2 mm as adults; the smallest is 0.6 mm), long slender bodies, and fringed wings (winged and wingless adults exist in some species). Males are smaller than females.
Adult thrips are generally relatively weak flyers and employ a‘clap and fling’ technique. The animal claps the leading edges of its wings together at the end of the upstroke then rotates the wings around the trailing edges, flinging them apart. Many small insects use this technique to promote air circulation and generate lift quickly. Pigeons also use this technique for their noisy flight initiations. For small insects, the viscosity of the air has a much greater effect than on larger animals. Fringed wings reduce drag associated with this effect.
There are about 6,000 species of thrips worldwide with 147 described species in two suborders in Canada, including 28 non-natives. Recent molecular work indicates that there may be as many as 255 additional as-yet-undescribed species in Canada. The most common and broadly distributed family is the Thripidae, followed by the Phlaeothripidae and Aeolothripidae. Other families are far less represented.
Although some species are important for pollination and a few are predators of other small insects, some are pests in crops. They have unique, asymmetrical mouthparts characterized by a greatly reduced right mandible. Their feeding is described as ‘rasping-sucking’: they scrape the surface of plant tissue and ingest fluid flowing from the wound. When feeding on actively growing plant tissue, growth reductions and distorted growth may be observed and yield loss can occur. When they feed on more mature tissue, silver leaf scars can occur that reduce the quality and marketability of some crops. Thrips are also important vectors of topsoviruses.
One suborder of thrips lays very small eggs (0.08 mm to 0.2 mm) singly in slits in plant tissue; the other lays eggs on plant surfaces. Eggs hatch into nymphs: juveniles resemble adults but are not sexually mature and have no wings. There are two juvenile feeding stages, followed by two non-feeding stages: pre-pupa and pupa.
The barley thrips, Limothrips denticornis, was first reported in North America in 1923 in New York. In its native Europe and Asia, it can be found on a wide variety of grass species but is a minor pest and only on rye. In North America, it is generally more important on barley, though it can be found on winter wheat, durum, winter rye, corn, and triticale. Adults are small (1.1 mm to 1.8 mm), elongate, and dark brown to black. These thrips lay eggs on upper leaf sheaths and each female can produce 100 eggs. Juveniles are smaller and lighter coloured. Barley thrips overwinter as adults and move to winter grasses in the spring. They are somewhat stronger flyers than many thrips species, but are still limited by their size. In Northern Europe, cereal thrips, including L. denticornis, have been reported to appearin large numbers ahead of thunderstorms. This may be associated with the warm conditions that precede these events, but it has also been suggested that they are sensitive to the electrical fields associated with storms.
Another cereal thrips, Limothrips cerealium, has also been reported in Canadian small grains cereals and was reported in 1928 to be responsible for 10 per cent losses in oats in Canada.
Thrips feeding on cereals can result in tissues appearing bleached. When numbers are high and feeding is intense, kernels can be shriveled. Severe flag leaf feeding can result in kernels filling improperly and reduced kernel weight.
Scouting for barley thrips should be done from first sign of flag leaf until the head is completely emerged from the boot. Barley thrips can be found on stems but are more commonly under the top two leaf sheaths. Because thrips are relatively weak flyers, there may be greater concentrations in protected field edges. Greatest damage has been reported in dryland cropping areas after prolonged drought.
Threshold (thrips/stem) = (Cost of control per acre / expected $ value per bushel) / 0.4
.Sample at least 50 stems from different parts of the field. One adult thrips per stem can cause a loss of 0.4 bushels per acre. This usually translates to an action threshold for barley and oats of 7 – 8 thrips/stem prior to heademergence but greater precision can be achieved by using the formula. The action threshold is the number of insects detected that can cause enough damage to justify the expense and effort of applying control. Numbers lower than this do not warrant control. Only apply control prior to the completion of heading.
Thresholds for cereal thrips have been determined for barley and oats but effects on other cereals crops in North America are less well understood. Work in Europe indicated comparable damage per thrips in rye, triticale, and winter barley. Recent reports of barley thrips in durum also suggest a risk of damaging effects, but these are not as well understood. A report from Germany indicated that, despite some relatively high thrips numbers, there was no correlation between barley thrips and damage. However, there is also evidence from Europe of the importance of long crop rotation to thrips damage control in wheat.
Even damaging insects can be beautiful! In fact, showy invasive species often are detected earlier compared to smaller, less colourful, or more cryptic or camouflaged species. The European skipper (Hesperiidae: Thymelicus lineola) is a good example of a bright orange butterfly large enough to easily spot on the wing that is diurnal (Fig. 1, 6). Unfortunately, the predominantly green larvae are defoliators capable of causing economic levels of damage in timothy but they also feed on a number of other grasses and winter wheat.
There is one generation per year of European skipper but butterfly oviposition or egg laying largely dictates where damage occurs the following summer. Early in July, butterflies feed on nectar, mate, and lay eggs. Females lay vertical rows or “strings” of groups of ~30 eggs on the inside of grass leaf sheaths, seed heads or on the stem of a host plant. By late July, larvae develop within the eggs yet they remain safely enclosed to overwinter inside the egg shell. Early in May, the overwintered larvae emerge from the shell, crawling up growing grass blades to feed. Five larval instar stages cause damage by defoliation of the upper leaves of timothy. Adult wingspans range from 19-26 mm but they have bright brassy orange wings with narrow black borders and hindwing undersides that are pale orange and greyish. The typical flight season extends from early June to mid-July but will vary regionally with southern parts of the Canadian prairies starting earlier than more northern regions.
Larvae are leaf-tyers that spin and attach silk ties across the outer edges of leaves to pull them together (Figs. 2-5). The silk ties hold the leaf in a tight furl enclosing the larva within a leafy tube then it moves up and down the tube to feed. The tying behavior and camouflaged green body (marked longitudinally with two white lines) make larvae hard to locate when scouting. Even larger larvae with their brown head capsules are surprisingly difficult to locate because the larva will lie lengthwise, along the base of the leaf fold yet remain very still until touched. When high densities of European skipper larvae are present, leaf tying goes out the window and larvae feed in more exposed areas, often amidst rapidly disappearing foliage.
European skipper (Thymelicus lineola) was introduced to North America decades ago and has moved west and north in its distribution across western Canada even though its area of origin is recognized as Eurasia and northwestern Africa. The initial report of European skipper in Canada is from 1910 and cites it being imported on contaminated timothy seed near London, Ontario. Eggs can be transferred in both hay and seed as seed cleaning will not remove all eggs.
Distribution records for T. lineola can be reviewed on the Butterflies of North America website. In western Canada, T. lineola established in parts of Saskatchewan by 2006. In 2008, butterflies were collected near Valleyview, Alberta (Otani, pers.comm.), and in 2015 larvae were observed feeding in the flag leaves of winter wheat near Mayerthorpe, Alberta (2015 Meers, pers. comm.). Specimens confirmed as T. lineola were collected in 2016 near Valleyview, Donnelly, and High Prairie, Alberta (2017 Otani and Schmidt, pers. comm.) with additional specimens confirmed from Baldonnel and Clayhurst, British Columbia in 2021 (2021 Otani and Schmidt, pers. comm.).
Cultural control strategies for European skipper include separating timothy from nectar sources to avoid attracting adults which will mate then oviposit in the same field. Another strategy is the removal of cut grass or bales. In terms of chemical control, an action threshold of six or more larvae per 30 cm x 30 cm area is recommended to mitigate losses but emphasis should be placed on scouting and managing early instar larvae. If the need arises, chemical control in timothy involves using a higher water volume (e.g., 300 L H2O/ha) to adequately cover the thicker canopy.
Interesting fact: In Europe, Thymelicus lineola is commonly referred to as the Essex Skipper.