Week 10 and our staff are busy out surveying so this is an abridged report! The incredible heat supported the rapid development of field crop insect pests so scouting is absolutely critical! Be sure to review the entire Previous Posts section for help beyond this shorter report. Also catch the Insect of the Week – it’s diamondback moths!
Stay safe and good scouting to you!
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TEMPERATURE: This past week (June 28 – July 4, 2021) an extreme heatwave affected temperatures across most of western North America. The North American heat dome was associated with exceptionally hot weather and resulted in numerous record temperatures across the Canadian prairies. Compared to climate normal temperature values, observed weekly average temperatures were 7.4 °C warmer than average! The warmest temperatures were observed across southern Alberta and western Saskatchewan. Table 1 provides a comparison between observed and average temperatures for the ten warmest locations across the prairies.
Similar to last week, the warmest temperatures were observed across Alberta (Fig. 1). Across the prairies, the average 30-day (June 5 – July 4, 2021) temperature was almost 3 °C warmer than climate normal values. The warmest temperatures were observed across southern Manitoba and southeastern Alberta (Fig. 2).
The 2021 growing season (April 1 – July 4, 2021) has been characterized by temperatures that have been 1.5 °C warmer than average. The warmest temperatures have occurred across southeastern Manitoba, west-central Saskatchewan and southern Alberta (Fig. 3).
PRECIPITATION: This past week, minimal rainfall was reported across most of the prairies with most locations reporting weekly amounts of less than 2 mm (Fig. 4). Higher rainfall amounts were reported across central Alberta and northern areas across the Peace River region. Rainfall amounts for the period of June 5 – July 4 (30-day accumulation) have been well below average across most of the prairies. The lowest rainfall amounts have occurred across most of Saskatchewan as well as southern and northern regions of Alberta (Fig. 5).
The average growing season (April 1 – July 4) precipitation was 90 % of normal with the greatest precipitation occurring across eastern Saskatchewan, including Regina. Below normal rainfall has been reported across western Saskatchewan, southern Alberta and the Peace River region(Fig. 6).
The recent warm temperatures have resulted in rapid development of wheat midge (Sitodiplosis mosellana) populations. Dry conditions in the Peace River region have contributed to delayed development of larval cocoons with 30-75 % of the population not expected to emerge this growing season. Unlike the larval cocoon stage (located in the soil), development of pupal, adult, egg and larval stages (in wheat heads) is not dependent on moisture. Development of these stages are dependent on temperature.
Where present, wheat midge populations should be entering the adult stage across most of the prairies (Fig. 1). This is a substantial change from last week where less than 10 % of the population was predicted to be in the adult stage. Oviposition is predicted to be occurring across most of the prairies and the initial hatch is now expected for southern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan (Figs. 2 and 3).
The model was projected to July 20 to determine potential development at Regina (Fig. 4), Lacombe (Fig. 5), and Grande Prairie (Fig. 6) over the next two weeks. Output suggests that oviposition will rapidly increase over the next 10 days and wheat crops near all three locations may be susceptible for the next two weeks. Based on the predicted occurrence of adults and eggs, development is most rapid where populations were predicted to be greatest in 2021 (based on 2020 fall survey).
Macroglenes penetrans is a parasitoid of wheat midge that is active in wheat fields when wheat midge adults are present. Model simulations indicate that the parasitoid has begun to appear in wheat crops in fields near Regina (Fig. 7).
If not already underway, scouting for wheat midge adults should continue this week and especially in regions where higher densities are predicted to occur. It is especially important to be monitoring for adults at dusk in regions expected to be at high risk, based on the 2020 survey which is mapped here.
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. 7). 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. 8), 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!
More information about wheat midge can be found by accessing the pages from the new “Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Field Guide”. View ONLY the Wheat midge pages but remember the guide is available as a free downloadable document as both an English-enhanced or French-enhanced version.
Model simulations were used to estimate grasshopper (Melanoplus sanguinipes) development as of July 4, 2021. Recent warm conditions have resulted in a noticeable increase in grasshopper development since last week. Grasshopper development, based on average instar, should be greatest across southern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan (Fig. 1).
Across the prairies, more than 15 % of the population should be in the fifth instar (Fig. 2). Development, as of July 4, 2021, is well ahead of long-term average values (Fig. 3).
Grasshopper Scouting Steps: ● Review grasshopper diversity and scouting information including photos of both nymphs, adults and non-grasshopper species to aid in-field scouting and accurately apply thresholds for grasshoppers. ● Measure off a distance of 50 m on the level road surface and mark both starting and finishing points using markers or specific posts on the field margin. ● Start at one end in either the field or the roadside and walk toward the other end of the 50 m, making some disturbance with your feet to encourage any grasshoppers to jump. ● Grasshoppers that jump/fly through the field of view within a one-meter width in front of the observer are counted. ● A meter stick can be carried as a visual tool to give perspective for a one-meter width. However, after a few stops, one can often visualize the necessary width and a meter stick may not be required. Also, a hand-held counter can be useful in counting while the observer counts off the required distance. ● At the endpoint, the total number of grasshoppers is divided by 50 to give an average per meter. For 100 m, repeat this procedure. ● Compare counts to the following damage levels associated with pest species of grasshoppers: 0-2 per m² – None to very light damage 2-4 per m² – Very light damage 4-8 per m² – Light damage 8-12 per m² – Action threshold in cereals and canola 12-24 per m² – Severe damage 24 per m² – Very severe damage For lentils at flowering and pod stages, >2 per m² will cause yield loss. For flax at boll stages, >2 per m² will cause yield loss. ● More practically, the following thresholds are offered but, in the event of additional crop stress (e.g., drought), the use of “may be required” versus “control usually required” requires careful consideration:
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. Diamondback moth is the Insect of the Week for Wk10!
Model simulations to July 4, 2021, indicate that the second generation of non-migrant adults are currently emerging across the Canadian prairies (Fig. 1). Across the prairies, development, as of July 4, 2021, is well ahead of long-term average values (Fig. 2).
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).
The following is offered to help predict when Culex tarsalis, the vector for West Nile Virus, will begin to fly across the Canadian prairies. This week, regions most advanced in degree-day accumulations for Culex tarsalis are shown in Figure 1 but the unusual heat across the prairies greatly accelerated mosquito development!
As of July 4, 2021 (Fig. 1), C. tarsalis development is most advanced in Manitoba, southern Alberta, and in small pockets in southern Saskatchewan. The map will change very quickly to orange then red (i.e., areas with sufficient heat accumulation for C. tarsalis to emerge). Given the forecast, areas highlighted yellow in the map below (as of July 4) should start to use DEET this week! IF C. tarsalis is present in an area where WNV is active, it may take as little as 12 days for adults to become fully infective with the current warm weather.
Anyone keen to identify mosquitoes will enjoy this pictorial key for both larvae and adults which is posted on the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) website but sadly lacks a formal citation other than “MOSQUITOES: CHARACTERISTICS OF ANOPHELINES AND CULICINES prepared by Kent S. Littig and Chester J. Stojanovich” and includes Pages 134-150. The proper citation may be Stojanovich, Chester J. & Louisiana Mosquito Control Association. (1982). Mosquito control training manual. pp 152.
Provincial entomologists provide insect pest updates throughout the growing season so link to their information:
MANITOBA’SCrop Pest Updates for 2021 are now available – access the July 7, 2021 report here. Be sure to bookmark their Crop Pest Update Index to readily access these reports! Bookmark their insect pest homepage to access fact sheets and more! • Bertha armyworm pheromone trap monitoring update for MB – Cumulative counts arising from weekly data are available here. The initial counts are categorized as “low risk” so far (i.e., 0-300 moths). • Diamondback moth pheromone trap monitoring update for MB – Trapping has drawn to a close for 2021. Access the summary here. Only 65 traps intercepted moths and the highest cumulative count was 171 moths near Selkirk. Access the summary (as of June 30, 2021). At this point, in-field scouting for larvae remains important.
ALBERTA’SInsect Pest Monitoring Network webpage links to insect survey maps, live feed maps, and 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 or Twitter users can connect to #ABBugChat Wednesdays at 10:00 am. • Wheat midge pheromone trap monitoring update for AB – Cumulative counts arising from weekly data are available so refer to the Live Map. Some sites in central Alberta are beginning to report “high risk” adult counts so synchrony with anthesis will need to be carefully monitored(08Jul2021). • Cabbage seedpod weevil sweep-net monitoring update for AB – In-field counts can be entered here to populate the Live Map. Some sites in southern Alberta are reporting densities at or above the economic threshold in canola (08Jul2021). • Bertha armyworm pheromone trap monitoring update for AB – Cumulative counts arising from weekly data have begun so refer to the Live Map. Cumulative counts throughout the province report “low risk” numbers of moths so far (08Jul2021). • Diamondback moth pheromone trap monitoring update for AB – Trapping has drawn to a close for 2021. Refer to the Live Map which reports extremely low numbers of moths intercepted so far (<50 province-wide as of 01Jul2021). At this point, in-field scouting for larvae remains important. • Cutworm reporting tool – Refer to the Live Map which now reports seven sites with cutworms (as of 01Jul2021).
Diamondback moths 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 USA. Upon arrival to the Prairies, migrant diamondback moths begin to reproduce, resulting in non-migrant populations that may have three or four generations during the growing season. Host plants include canola, mustard and other cruciferous vegetables and weeds.
Diamondback moths lay their eggs on leaves. Hatchling larvae tunnel into the leaves, later emerging to the surface to feed. Damage begins as shot holes and eventually expands to complete skeletonization, leaving only the leaf veins. Larvae also feed on flowers and strip the surface of developing pods and stems. Damage can lower seed quality and crop yield.
Adults are active moths measuring 12 millimetres long with an 18-20 millimetre wingspan. When at rest, the forewings form a diamond-shaped pattern along the mid-line. Mature larvae are 8-millimetre-long green caterpillars. Terminal prolegs extend backwards, resembling a fork. When disturbed, caterpillars drop towards the ground on a silken thread to avoid harm.