Field heroes

The Field Heroes campaign continues to raise awareness of the role of beneficial insects in western Canadian crops. Check the recently updated Field Heroes website for scouting guides, downloadable posters, and videos. Learn about these important organisms at work in your fields!  

Real Agriculture went live in 2020 with a Pest and Predators podcast series!

• Access Episode 1 – Do you know your field heroes?

• Access Episode 2 – An inside look at the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network.

• Access Episode 3 – How much can one wasp save you?

• Access Episode 4 – Eat and be eaten — grasshoppers as pests and food

• Access Episode 5 – Killer wasp has only one target — wheat stem sawfly

• Access Episode 6Plentiful parasitoids

Access ALL the Field Heroes links here and be sure to follow @FieldHeroes!

Field heroes

The Field Heroes campaign continues to raise awareness of the role of beneficial insects in western Canadian crops. Check the recently updated Field Heroes website for scouting guides, downloadable posters, and videos. Learn about these important organisms at work in your fields!  

Real Agriculture went live with a Pest and Predators podcast series!

• Access Episode 1 – Do you know your field heroes?

• Access Episode 2 – An inside look at the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network.

• Access Episode 3 – How much can one wasp save you?

• Access Episode 4 – Eat and be eaten — grasshoppers as pests and food

• Access Episode 5 – Killer wasp has only one target — wheat stem sawfly

• NEW – Access Episode 6Plentiful parasitoids

Access ALL the Field Heroes links here and be sure to follow @FieldHeroes!

Field heroes


The Field Heroes campaign continues to raise awareness of the role of beneficial insects in western Canadian crops. Check the recently updated Field Heroes website for scouting guides, downloadable posters, and videos. Learn about these important organisms at work in your fields!  

Real Agriculture went live with a Pest and Predators podcast series!

• Access Episode 1 – Do you know your field heroes?

• Access Episode 2 – An inside look at the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network.

• Access Episode 3 – How much can one wasp save you?

• Access Episode 4 – Eat and be eaten — grasshoppers as pests and food

• Access Episode 5 – Killer wasp has only one target — wheat stem sawfly

Access ALL the Field Heroes links here and be sure to follow @FieldHeroes!

Field heroes

The Field Heroes campaign continues to raise awareness of the role of beneficial insects in western Canadian crops. Check the recently updated Field Heroes website for scouting guides, downloadable posters, and videos. Learn about these important organisms at work in your fields!  

Real Agriculture went live with a Pest and Predators podcast series!

• Access Episode 1 – Do you know your field heroes?

• Access Episode 2 – An inside look at the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network.

• Access Episode 3 – How much can one wasp save you?

• Access Episode 4 – Eat and be eaten — grasshoppers as pests and food

• NEW – Access Episode 5 – Killer wasp has only one target — wheat stem sawfly

Access ALL the Field Heroes links here and be sure to follow @FieldHeroes!

Insect of the Week – Doppelgangers: midge vs. parasitoid

The case of the innocuous versus the evil twin: When making pest management decisions, be sure that the suspect is actually a pest. This can be challenge since insects often mimic each other or look very similar. An insect that looks, moves and acts like a pest may in fact be a look-alike or doppelganger. 

Doppelgangers may be related (e.g. same genus) or may not be related, as in the case of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and viceroys (Limenitis achrippus). Doppelgangers are  usually relatively harmless but sometimes the doppelganger is a pest yet their behaviour, lifecycle or hosts may be different. 

Correctly identifying a pest enables selection of the most accurate scouting or monitoring protocol. Identification and monitoring enables the application of economic thresholds. It also enables a producer to select and apply the most effective control option(s) including method and timing of application.  For the rest of the growing season, the Insect of the Week will feature insect crop pests and their doppelgangers.

Is that a midge or a parasitoid? Why does it matter?

Small insects (i.e., less than 5 mm) are difficult to identify, even for trained specialists and professional entomologists. Especially if they are alive, flying around. Or in a sweep net sample quickly assessed in the field. In the case of midge and small-bodied parasitoids, they can be easily mistaken for one another, but their roles in agriculture tend to be very different. 

Some of the most well-known prairie midge species are agricultural pests, such as the orange coloured wheat midge (Sitodiplosis mosellana), black-coloured Hessian fly (Mayetiola destructor), and alfalfa blotch leafminer (Agromyza frontella). Other midge species found on the prairies include biting midge like no-see-ums (Ceratopogonidae), black flies (Simuliidae), and non-biting midge (Chironomidae). Midge that are not considered agricultural pests may provide some ecosystem services (i.e., pollination), while other midge are disease vectors and are pests of medical and veterinary concern. 

A – Hessian fly – adult
Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org
B – Swede midge – adult
Susan Ellis, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org
C – Wheat midge – adult
Mike Dolinski, MikeDolinski@hotmail.com

Parasitoids are natural enemies of other insects. Thus, many parasitoids are important because they help control agricultural pest populations. Adult parasitoids lay eggs, usually singly, onto or into their host. The larvae that hatch from the eggs develop using the host as food, and eventually kill the host. An individual host usually provides enough food for just one parasitoid larva. For this reason, parasitoids species are rarely larger in size than their host species. On the prairies, important parasitoid families that may be mistaken for midge or other small, black insects include: Aphidiinae, Braconidae, Chalchididae, Encyrtidae, Eulophidae, Platygasteridae, Pteromalidae and Trichogrammididae. Sticky cards or sweep net samples may contain hundreds or thousands of small, black, winged insects. Many are probably parasitoids and not pests so look closely when scouting. A few key differences to watch out for include:

  • Parasitoids have two pairs of wings while midge have only one pair of wings     
  • Parasitoids are often shiny or metallic shades of black, blue, purple or green     
  • Midge may look hairy; parasitoids rarely look hairy.  
1 – Aphidiinae – adult (Aphidius avenaphis)
Tyler Wist, AAFC
2 – Braconid wasp – adult
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
3 – Chalcid wasp – adult (Phasgonophora sulcata)
Michael Gates, Encyclopedia of Live, EOL.org
4 – Tetrastichus julis – adult parasitizing a cereal leaf beetle larva
Swaroop Kher, University of Alberta/AAFC
5 – Ichneumonid – adult (Banchus flavescens)
John Gavloski, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
6 – Platygasterid – adult (Inostemma sp.)
Tyler Wist, AAFC
7 – Pteromalid – adult (Pteromalus puparum)
Koorosh McCormack, Natural History Museum: Hymenoptera Section, EOL.org
8 – Trichogrammid – adult (Trichogramma sp.) parasitizing an egg  
Jack Kelly Clark, University of California Statewide IPM Program

Specific information on these families of parasitoids and on the species of midge listed here can be found in updated Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural enemies in Western Canada field guide.

Review previously featured insects by visiting the Insect of the Week page.

Post contributed by Dr. Meghan Vankosky.

Field Heroes

The Field Heroes campaign continues to raise awareness of the role of beneficial insects in western Canadian crops.

Make use of the Scouting Guides freely available on the Field Heroes website.  Each guide includes valuable information and photos to help identify the contents valuable arthropods occurring in field crops.

Have you seen the “Check the Net” infographics that helps growers understand just how many organisms are present in cereals, oilseeds, and pulses and that ONLY A SMALL PROPORTION are considered economic pests?  A great many of the other insects, spiders, and mites are beneficial organisms that work to regulate crop pests!  Protect and enhance their impact on crop pests by performing in-field assessments and use economic thresholds to help decide when control is warranted and find out more about the Cereal Avengers, Oilseed Avengers and Pulse Avengers!

Link here to access a complete list of all the PPMN Blog Posts related to Natural Enemies!

Be sure to follow @FieldHeroes on Twitter for practical tips and information.

Thanks to Western Grains Research Foundation for their support of this important campaign. This initiative has been made possible through the support and advice of enthusiastic members of the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network.

Abundant parastioids in canola!

The cabbage seedpod weevil is a chronic pest of canola in southern Alberta and south western Saskatchewan; it has recently reached Manitoba as well. The pest is managed with insecticides, which are sprayed at early flower. This year, in some canola fields around Lethbridge AB, an abundant parasitoid wasp was noticed at the time when fields may be sprayed. The wasp was identified as Diolcogaster claritibia (Fig. 1; thanks to Vincent Hervet and Jose Fernandez for confirming identification).

The wasp is a parasitoid that attacks diamondback moth larvae and recently abundant in some fields in 2017. In some of the fields sampled, as many parasitoids as cabbage seedpod weevil (i.e., nearly one per sweep) were observed. In the fields sampled (i.e., around 10), cabbage seedpod weevils were below thresholds on average, though some spots may have been close to the threshold of 2-3 weevils per sweep.

The above observation emphasizes the value of beneficial arthropods like Diolcogaster claritibia.  It is important to recognize that foliar applications of insecticides kill beneficial insects like this small wasp (about 2 mm) which attacks and helps regulate pest populations of diamondback moth or other Lepidoptera, including cutworms and cabbage worms. Thus, think beneficials before you spray!

Figure 1.  Diolcagaster claritibia adult measuring ~2mm in length (Photo credit J. Fernandez, AAFC-Ottawa).

Learn more about beneficials by accessing Field Heroes and all the Blog’s Parasitoid posts.

Field Heroes

As crops continue to grow, please consider the vital role beneficial organisms have in your fields.  Please make use of the Scouting Guides freely available on the Field Heroes website.  Each guide includes valuable information and photos to help identify the contents of a sweep-net and to increase understanding of the impact of beneficial insects. Please share and encourage use of the Scouting Guides.

Be sure to follow @FieldHeroes on Twitter for practical tips and information. Please tag @FieldHeroes in your own Tweets about beneficials. Re-Tweets are great, too.

Thanks to Western Grains Research Foundation for their support of this important campaign. This initiative is not possible without the support and advice of enthusiastic members of the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network. Our research is having a tangible impact on growers’ pest management decisions.

Link here to access a complete list of all the PPMN Blog Posts related to Natural Enemies!

Field Heroes

What a difference a year makes! The Field Heroes campaign has been successful at raising awareness of the role of beneficial insects in Western Canadian crops. You’ll see this year’s campaign giving growers and agronomists more details on the many natural enemies they should be scouting for in cereal, oilseed and pulse crops.

Please make use of the Scouting Guides freely available on the Field Heroes website.  Each guide includes valuable information and photos to help identify the contents of a sweep-net and to increase understanding of the impact of beneficial insects. Please share and encourage use of the Scouting Guides.

Be sure to follow @FieldHeroes on Twitter for practical tips and information. Please tag @FieldHeroes in your own Tweets about beneficials. Re-Tweets are great, too.

Thanks to Western Grains Research Foundation for their support of this important campaign. This initiative is not possible without the support and advice of enthusiastic members of the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network. Our research is having a tangible impact on growers’ pest management decisions.

Link here to access a complete list of all the PPMN Blog Posts related to Natural Enemies!

Insect of the Week – Ground beetles: cutworm natural enemies

This week’s Insect of the Week is a large group of insects called ground beetles, also known as carabid beetles. Many species feed on cutworms as well as other pests.

Almost 400 different species of ground beetles occur on the Prairies, ranging in size from just a few millimetres to more than 2 centimetres. A field may contain 50 or more species, with densities ranging up to 10 beetles per square meter.

Ground beetles are characterized with long threadlike antennae, have a body that is flattened top-to-bottom, and have strong legs designed for running, large eyes, and obvious jaws (mandibles). Smaller ground beetle species can be important predators of cutworm eggs. Larger species attack and kill fully-grown cutworm larvae.
With all the work they do protecting your crop, ground beetles are real @FieldHeroes.
Find out more about ground beetles at the Insect of the Week page!
Adult Carabus nemoralis attacking a bertha armyworm caterpillar. 
Photocredit – Vincent Hervet, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Species of ground beetles common in agricultural fields on the Prairies. 
From left to right: Bembidion quadrimaculatum, Agonum cupreum, 
Pterostichus melanarius, Calosoma calidum
Photocredit – Henri Goulet (retired), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

For a detailed review of ground beetle research, biology, distribution, habitat, diet, etc., see Chapter 1: Ground Beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) of the Prairie Grasslands of Canada.
**NEW – Don’t forget there’s a new cutworm identification manual you can download from the Cutworm Field Guide page – NEW**

 

Insect of the Week – Aphidius parasitoid wasp

This week’s Insect of the Week is the Aphidius parasitoid wasp. Their hosts include over 40 species of aphids. Egg to adult development occurs inside the host. New adults chew a hole in the mummified aphid to exit and immediately search for new aphid hosts.

For more information on the Aphidius parasitoid wasp, see our Insect of the Week page.

Parasitized English grain aphid (Tyler Wist, AAFC)
Aphidiidae – adult (Aphidius avenaphis) (Tyler Wist, AAFC)

Follow @FieldHeroes to learn more about the natural enemies that are working for you for FREE to protect your crops!

Remember the NEW Cutworm Field Guide is free and downloadable in 2017!

Insect of the Week – Macroglenes penetrans

This week’s Insect of the Week is a beneficial wasp from the Family Pteromalidae named Macroglenes penetrans. It is an important natural enemy of wheat midge.  The wasp is a parasitoid that lives within the wheat midge larva and overwinters within the host.  In the spring, the parasitoid larva develops to emerge from the wheat midge cocoon buried in the soil and seeks out wheat midge eggs.


For more information about M. penetrans, see our Insect of the Week page.



Macroglenes penetrans – adult (AAFC)

Follow @FieldHeroes to learn more about Natural Enemies that are working for you for FREE to protect your crops!


Remember the NEW Cutworm Field Guide is free and downloadable in 2017!

Weekly Update – Field Heroes

@Field Heroes – Western Grains Research Foundation is supporting a new initiative to help growers, agrologists and the general public learn more about beneficial arthropods active in field crops.  Provincial entomologists from Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, along with input from AAFC researchers, are working with Synthesis, a communications company, to promote and increase awareness of these incredible arthropod heroes!

Follow @FieldHeroes for great information on these beneficials.  


NEW – Access great information on beneficials to support in-field monitoring at http://www.fieldheroes.ca/


The website includes scouting guides to help identify and link pest/beneficial combinations – all aimed at helping growers and agrologists understand and preserve the many arthropods hard at work in fields across the Canadian prairies.

Insect of the Week – Rove beetle

This week’s Insect of the Week is the Rove Beetle (Delia spp.). This beetle feeds on aphids, mites, eggs and larvae of many other insects present under plant debris, rocks, stones, carrion, dung, and other materials. It is also an important natural enemy of the pea leaf weevil. One species of the rove beetle, Aleochara bilineata, is an important natural enemy of cabbage, seedcorn, onion and turnip maggots.

Follow @FieldHeroes to learn more about the Natural Enemies that are working for you for FREE to protect your crops!

For more information on the Rove Beetle, see our Insect of the Week page.

Rove beetle – adult (Tyler Wist, AAFC)
Remember the NEW Cutworm Field Guide is free and downloadable in 2017!

Weekly Update – Field Heroes

@Field HeroesWestern Grains Research Foundation is supporting a new initiative to help growers, agrologists and the general public learn more about beneficial arthropods active in field crops.  Provincial entomologists from Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, along with input from AAFC researchers, are working with Synthesis, a communications company, to promote and increase awareness of these incredible arthropod heroes!


Follow @FieldHeroes for great information on these beneficials.  Watch for a NEW website coming soon including scouting guides to help identify and link pest/beneficial combinations – all to help growers and agrologists understand and preserve the many arthropods already working in fields across the Canadian prairies.

AAFC posts new IPM video

When encountering insects found in prairie crops, I quite often don’t know if I’ve found a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ insect. In these instances, I feel like Glinda the Good when she asked Dorothy, ‘are you a good witch, or a bad witch?’ Some are ‘good’ insects (predators, parasitoids, pollinators, decomposers) and others are ‘bad’ (defoliators, sap suckers, seed eaters, root eaters, disease vectors). And of course there’s also the great grey middle where some insects have a balance of good and bad traits, while others are seemingly and completely benign. Many times, you can’t tell simply by their appearance which category an insect falls in (unlike Glinda in identifying a bad witch: ‘Only bad witches are ugly.’). Especially when you encounter their adult form as it’s often the larvae or nymphs that cause most of the damage.

AAFC entomologists
study many aspects of the insects that make their home in our crops and nearby
land. One of those aspects is how the ‘good’ insects contribute to the
producers’ bottom line in terms of the pest control services they provide. Economists estimate that for
every $1 invested in Integrated Pest Management research, the industry gets
back about $15 in benefits. For a brief look at some of the work AAFC
entomologists do in Saskatchewan, make some popcorn, sit back and watch our new video.


 
I would be remiss
if I didn’t add that AAFC entomologists partner with provincial, university, industry
and private entomologists in the region and across Canada to discover, monitor and
publicize the latest findings and trends in crop pests and beneficials.
You might also
like to take a look at ‘Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies
in Western Canada: Identification and Management Guide’ for information and
full colour pictures of important economic Prairie crop insects and spiders. Download
links are available on the ‘Insect of Week’ page.


Insect of the Week – Assassin bug

Assassin
bug
Last
year, the focus of the Beneficial 
Insect of the Week was crop pests. This year, we’re changing things up and
highlighting the many natural enemies that help you out, silently and
efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured Insects of the Week in
2015 are available on the
 Insect of the Week page]
This
week’s feature beneficial insect is the Assassin Bug. I love it when a common
name is so apt. Assassins (at least in the movies) are guns for hire and
they’ll take out whoever is on their list. They’re usually the bad guys but on
occasion can be a force for good (e.g.
Jason Bourne). Similarly
in the insect world, assassin bugs are indiscriminate in who they attack,
preying on immature and adult forms of beneficials and pests alike by patiently
lying in wait for their target to come within stabbing distance.
For
more information about these natural enemies, other pests they control and
other important crop and forage insects, see the new Field Crop and
Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification
and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation
options (download links for field guide available on the 
Insect of the Week page).

Assassin bug (Reduvius personatus), Keith Roragen, Flickr

Insect of the Week – Natural Predators

The importance of non-crop areas as habitat for beneficial insects



Last year, the focus of the
Beneficial 
Insect of the Week was crop pests. This year,
we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that
help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured
Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the
 Insect of the Week page] 
Natural enemies don’t just appear from nowhere – they rely on nearby
non-crop and (semi-)natural sites for shelter, food, overwintering sites and
alternate hosts for when crop pests are either not present or in low numbers.
How you manage these sites can have a huge impact on natural enemies’ capacity
to supress pests when you need them to. These same sites are also essential
habitats for pollinators, important for maximizing yield of non-cereal seed
crops (e.g. oil seed crop). A recent publication, ‘Agricultural practices that
promote crop pest suppression by natural predators’, describes the role of
non-crop areas and management practices to nurture natural enemy populations.
Go to the Insect of the Week page for download links for
this publication. There you will also find more information about natural
enemies, the pests they control and details about important crop and forage
pest insects by downloading the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their
Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide.



Insect of the Week – Natural predators

Last year, the focus of the
Beneficial 
Insect of the Week was crop pests. This year,
we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that
help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured
Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the
 Insect of the Week page] 
Natural enemies don’t just appear from nowhere – they rely on nearby
non-crop and (semi-)natural sites for shelter, food, overwintering sites and
alternate hosts for when crop pests are either not present or in low numbers.
How you manage these sites can have a huge impact on natural enemies’ capacity
to supress pests when you need them to. These same sites are also essential
habitats for pollinators, important for maximizing yield of non-cereal seed
crops (e.g. oil seed crop). A recent publication, ‘Agricultural practices that
promote crop pest suppression by natural predators’, describes the role of
non-crop areas and management practices to nurture natural enemy populations.
Go to the Insect of the Week page for download links for
this publication. There you will also find more information about natural
enemies, the pests they control and details about important crop and forage
pest insects by downloading the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their
Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide.



Insect of the Week – Ladybird beetle larva

Last year, the focus of the Beneficial Insect of the Week was crop pests. This year, we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the Insect of the Week page] 

You can’t tell by looks whether an insect is a good bug (beneficial) or a bad bug (pest). And while you might recognize the adult, the immature form might appear quite alien. This is definitely the case with the ladybird beetle (aka lady beetle). This cute, orange, nearly round beetle with varying number of spots depending on species appears harmless but is a voracious eater, consuming up to 100 aphids a day (and other soft bodied insects). The larvae (slate blue, elongated body with varying black and yellow patterns) can be just as hungry.

One of the exciting projects at Agriculture Canada is looking at how natural enemies like ladybird beetles control cereal aphids in wheat, oat, barley and rye, preventing them from causing economic damage without you having to lift a finger (or hook up a sprayer). Of course, there are times when there aren’t enough free helpers/natural enemies and we’re developing an app that will help growers figure out if and when they need to control cereal aphids. (Refining and making accessible to growers a validated dynamic action threshold for cereal aphid control in cereal crops).

For more information about these natural enemies, other pests they control and other important crop and forage insects, see the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page).


Ladybird beetle larva eating aphids
Mike Dolinski, MikeDolinski@hotmail.com

Insect of the Week – Aphidius avenaphis

Aphidiidae


Last year, the focus of the Beneficial Insect of the Week
 was crop pests. This year, we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the Insect of the Week page] 

This week’s Insect of the Week are Aphidiidae wasps*. While you won’t likely see them flying about attacking aphids, this tiny wasp can parasitoidize 100-350 aphids during its relatively short lifetime.  The resulting aphid ‘mummy’ ceases causing crop damage and instead becomes a living host for the developing wasp. After 2 to 4 weeks of development, a new adult Aphidiidae wasp emerges and starts hunting for aphids to continue the cycle. To see an Aphidius avenaphis wasp in action, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7PNlpEgvEM&feature=youtu.be

For more information about this natural enemy, other pests they control and other important crop and forage insects, see the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page).

* this wasp genus only attacks aphids, not humans.



Adult Aphidius avenaphis© AAFC, Tyler Wist

English grain aphid mummy, cc-by-sa 2.0 Gilles San Martin

Insect of the Week – Crab spiders

Crab spiders


Last year, the focus of the Insect of the Week was crop pests. This year, we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the Insect of the Week page] 

This week’s Insects of the Week are crab spiders. These are generalist predators, capturing any insects (small flies, ants, bees, wasps, beetles, small moths, thrips) visiting flowers, including canola which is in full flower right now. They are called crab spiders because they walk sideways like a crab.

For more information about these spiders, the other pests they control and other important crop and forage insects, see the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page).

‘Will you walk into my parlor?’ said the [yellow crab] spider to the fly
– (c) AAFC, Tyler Wist


Insect of the Week – Cotesia margeniventris

Cotesia margeniventris (parasitoid)

Last year, the focus of the Insect of the Week was crop pests. This year, we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the Insect of the Week page] 

This week’s Insect of the Week is Cotesia marginiventris (sorry, no common name), a braconidid wasp parasitoid. Female C. marginiventris lay their eggs in the larvae of cabbage looper, black cutworm, corn earworm, variegated cutworm, armyworm and fall armyworm.


For more information about C. marginiventris, the pests it controls and other important crop and forage insects, see the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page).

Cotesia marginiventris parasitoidizing beet armyworm larva.
Photo cc-by-nc Debbie Waters, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org


Insect of the Week – Blister beetle

Blister Beetles (predator)

Last year, the focus of the Insect of the Week was crop pests. This year, we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the Insect of the Week page] 

This week’s Insect of the Week is the blister beetle (Lytta nuttalli and Epicauta spp.). This is a good news/bad news story. The good news is that the Epicauta spp. larvae feed on grasshopper eggs. But the bad news is that the Nuttall blister beetle larvae feed on ground-dwelling leaf-cutter and bumble bees. The bad news continues: adult blister beetles contain a toxin, cantharidin. When beetles get baled in with alfalfa hay, the toxin can cause severe distress in livestock, especially horses.


See more information in the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page).

Adult blister beetles. Photo credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Insect of the Week – Ground beetles

Ground beetles (predator)


Last year, the focus of the Insect of the Week was crop pests. This year, we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the Insect of the Week page] 


This week’s Insect of the Week is the ground beetle. There are nearly 400 known ground beetle species on the prairies. Some of these provide important pest control service: eating redbacked cutworm eggs, grasshopper eggs, pea leaf weevil eggs, cabbage maggots and diamondback moth larvae. See more information in the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page).



The ground beetle Pterostichus melanarius can help prevent pest outbreaks of diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella). © Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility (www.cbif.gc.ca)
For those that just can’t get enough about the fascinating world of insects, Ground Beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) of the Prairie Grasslands of Canada is a recent literature review on the topic.

Insect of the Week – Aphidius wasp

This week’s Insect of the Week is the Aphidius wasp (Aphidius sp.), Most people’s experience with wasps is a painful encounter with a paper wasp, hornet or yellow jacket. However, there are far more beneficial wasps than hurtful. The Aphidius wasp is just one of many such, with female wasps parasitizing up to 350 aphids during their short lifespan. Small but mighty, a large enough population of Aphidius wasps (working alone or together with other cereal aphid predators/parasitoides) can bring down a cereal aphid population to the point where spraying becomes unnecessary. See more information in the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page). 

(c) Tyler Wist, AAFC


Insect of the week – Syrphid flies

This week’s Insect of the week is an important aphid predator, the syrphid fly. Syrphid flies are more commonly known as hoverflies. There are many species in the Syrphidae family and the adults of several species mimic wasps.   


Wasps are characterized by having two pairs of wings, a tightly tapered ‘waist’, long antennae, and a yellow and black body. In contrast, hoverflies or syrphid flies have one pair of wings, a less distinct ‘waist’, have short antennae, and an abdomen striped yellow and black or a black and brown body. Syrphid flies also have relatively large compound eyes  characteristic to all Diptera spp. Mimicking the appearance of a wasp helps protect syrphid flies from predation.  

Find out more about hoverflies and more at the Insect of the Week page!

Two syrphid flies on a hawkweed flower.
(c) 2015 John Gavloski, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development