Cereal Aphid Manager

Aphids can cause significant damage to fields and increase crop losses but low densities in a grain field sometimes have little economic impact on production. This is especially true if the aphid’s natural enemies (beneficial insects) are present in the field because they can keep the aphids under control.

The Cereal Aphid Manager is an easy-to-use mobile app that helps farmers and crop advisors control aphid populations in wheat, barley, oat or rye. It is based on Dr. Tyler Wist’s (AAFC-Saskatoon) Dynamic Action Threshold model. The model treats the grain field as an ecosystem and takes into account many complex biological interactions including:

  • the number of aphids observed and how quickly they reproduce
  • the number of different natural enemies of aphids in the field and how many aphids they eat or parasitize per day
  • the lifecycles of aphids and their enemies taking into account developmental stages, egg laying behaviour, population growth rate, lifespan, etc.

Frequent in-field scouting, supported by the app’s dynamic threshold, allows growers to weigh the above factors and the app predicts what the aphid population will be in seven days and the best time to apply insecticide based on economic thresholds.

To learn more and to download, go to AAFC’s CAM webpage

Extra Insect of the Week – English grain aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae)

The English grain aphid (Sitobion avenae) has started to appear across the Prairies in various cereal crops this past week so the time to scout is now. Look for this aphid infesting wheat heads (favourite host) as well as barley, oat, rye, Timothy and canaryseed.

This aphid can also be a vector for barley yellow dwarf virus. You might see the green, red colour morph or both morphs in fields this year (Fig. 1). You will probably also see ladybeetle (@FieldHeroes) adults and larvae hunting the aphids (Fig. 2). The economic threshold for aphids in spring wheat in Western Canada is 12-15 aphids per head prior to the soft dough stage. 

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, with funding from the Pest Management Centre, has developed a smartphone app called Cereal Aphid Manager (CAM) to facilitate scouting for aphids in cereals that also allows you to record the beneficial insects in the field that can keep aphid populations below the economic threshold – available at Apple iTunes and Google Play app stores. CAM information and download links.

For more information on the English grain aphid, check out our Insect of the Week page!

Submitted by Dr. Tyler Wist (Tyler.Wist@agr.gc.ca).

Fig. 1 Green and red morph English grain aphid
(Tyler Wist, AAFC)
Fig. 2 Seven-spotted lady bird larva hunting aphids
(Tyler Wist, AAFC)