Ladybird beetles and mummies

Ladybird beetle larvae (Fig. 1), pupae (Fig. 2), and adults (Fig. 3) can all be found in fields at this time of year.  Take a look at the various stages and the many patterns of native and introduced species to recognize these as Field Heroes!  Ladybird beetles are categorized as general predators and will feed on several species of arthropods but are partial to aphids.  

Figure 1. Ladybird beetle larva (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)
Figure 2. Ladybird beetle pupa (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge).
Figure 3. Ladybird beetle (Coccinella septempunctata) (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)

Another “beneficial” found in fields at this point in the season are mummified aphids (Fig. 4). The “mummy” contains a maturing parasitoid wasp which will emerge from the host and seek other aphids to parasitize. Read more about the amazing Aphidiinae wasps by accessing the pages from the  “Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Field Guide“.  The guide is available as a free downloadable document in both an English-enhanced or French-enhanced version.

Figure 4. An aphid “mummy” adhered to a wheat awn.  A “mummy” is the aphid host transformed to enclose a soon-to-emerge parasitoid wasp (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge).

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!

Doppelgangers – good vs. good (ladybeetle larva vs. lacewing larva)

Often life choices involve lesser evils. But in the case of lady beetle larva and lacewing larva, they both contribute to the greater good. But which one do you have? Both are voracious aphid, mite, mealy bug, insect egg and other soft bodied insect hunters. In fact, lady beetle larva can consume hundreds of aphids during their development. Lacewing larva are no slouch in that department either. Another name for them is aphidlion and they can consume up to 200 aphids per week.

Green lacewing larva
cc by 3.0 Whitney Cranshaw
Ladybird beetle larva
cc by 3.0 Frank Peairs

While both have the same general tapered alligator body, there are few main characteristics that will help to tell them apart.

For more information about these species and more tips on telling them apart, see our Insect of the Week page).

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.

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

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.

Insect of the Week – Lily leaf beetle (Lilioceris lilii) and its natural enemy, Tetrastichus setifer

Lily leaf beetle (Lilioceris lilii) adult – Shelley Barkley

The lily leaf beetle (Lilioceris lilii) is a native of Europe and was originally found in Canada at Montreal in 1945. Since then, it has spread throughout Eastern Canada and has now established itself as far west as Alberta. Long distance movement of the beetle is facilitated by movement of plant material; locally, they move on their own as they are strong flyers.

The lily leaf beetle lays its eggs and develops only on true lilies (Tiger, Easter, Asiatic and Oriental lilies) and fritillaries. They can feed (but not develop) on other perennials like lily-of-the-valley.  Adult and larval feeding will ruin true lilies. The feeding damage can be so severe that many gardeners have removed lilies from their landscapes.  

The adult beetle overwinters in the soil or leaf litter, not necessarily near host plants. They emerge on the first warm spring days and will begin feeding on the early emerging lilies, as early as mid-April on the Prairies. Shortly after emergence, they start to mate and lay orange eggs in rows of 3-12 on the undersides of the lily leaves or on the emerging lily shoots (late April to early May). Egg laying (up to 450 per female) can continue well into July. Eggs will hatch in 4-8 days.

The larva is a soft, hump-backed, orange to brownish slug-like animal with a black head and legs. For protection from predation, desiccation and camouflage, it covers its body with a layer of its own fecal matter. The larval stage most destructive phase of the beetle’s life cycle, as larvae feed for 16-24 days. They devour leaves leaving only the plant stems, and chew into flower buds. Larvae drop to ground to pupate and emerge as adults 16-22 days later.

Tetrastichus setifer, a small parasitoid wasp (harmless to humans), is being introduced as biological control agent for the beetle. T. setifer overwinters in the soil in a cocoon. It then emerges in the spring and the female will lay up to nine eggs in one lily leaf beetle larva. She can lay eggs in all four larval instars of the lily leaf beetle.

There have been successful T. setifer releases in Ottawa with establishment and good suppression of lily leaf beetles. Releases have been done in gardens in Manitoba and Quebec as well natural sites in Quebec where the native lilies Lilium canadense, and Lilium michiganense grow. Successful establishment of T. setifer in the natural locations is uncertain at this time. Recently, there have been releases in Calgary, Alberta and Olds, Alberta. In 2018 additional releases were made in 2 gardens in Brooks, Alberta.

Tetrastichus setifer on Lily leaf beetle larva – Shelley Barkley

For information about previous featured insects, please visit our Insect of the Week page. For even more information on crop pests and their natural enemies, be sure to check out our newly updated Field Guide and Cutworm Guide, available for free download on our Insect Field Guide and Cutworm Field Guide pages.

Insect of the Week – Biological control agents of weeds

As we are nearing the end of the 2018 growing season, we decided to feature something a little bit different for this week’s Insect of the Week: insects that are biological control agents of weeds. Natural enemies of insects include parasitoids and predators that kill insect pests. Natural enemies of weeds include plant pathogens or insect herbivores that impact weed growth and reproduction, thus reducing reduce weed density. There are many insects that may be found in rangeland, forage and crop habitats that are biological control agents of weeds, some of which have been introduced purposely after rigorous testing for safety from places where our invasive plants have originated. Biological control agents of weeds act in two primary ways: plant herbivory and granivory. Plant herbivores consume root, leaves and./or shoots enough to typically reduce its ability to grow and reproduce, and thus its ability to compete with rangeland plants used in cattle grazing or with crops. Granivores or weed seed predators consume high numbers of weed seeds, thus reducing the number of viable weed seeds entering seed banks for germination in future growing seasons.

Ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) of several genera are known to eat weed seeds within crops, including Harpalus, Amara, Poecilus, and Pterostichus. The diets of some ground beetles almost entirely consist of weed seeds. Other ground beetles are primarily carnivores (i.e., generalist predators of other insects or slugs) that occasionally consume weed seeds. More information about the biology of ground beetles can be found by visiting the Insect of the Week page.

Mogulones crucifer (Pallas) is a biological control agent of hound’s-tongue (Cynoglossum officinale L.), a weedy pest of rangelands in southern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta. The adult stage of this weevil species (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) feeds on leaves of its host while the larvae consume the roots of the host plant. The weevil is highly mobile and has significantly reduced hound’s-tongue densities where it has been released for biological control. For more information about M. crucifer, visit https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/plants/biocontrol/detailed_bioagent_pages/Mogulones_cruciger.htm

Prepared by Dr. Meghan Vankosky

Hound’s-tongue, an invasive species, is a host
plant for Mogulones crucifer
Photo: Jacob W. Frank
Mogulones crucifer adult on hound’s-tongue leaf
photo: Rosemarie De Clerk-Floate
Mogulones crucifer larvae infesting hound’s-tongue root
photo: Rosemarie De Clerk-Floate

Ladybird beetles

Reminder – While scouting, you may encounter these fascinating organisms…..

Figure 1. Ladybird beetle larva (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)
Figure 2. Ladybird beetle pupa (Left) and larva (Right) (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)
Figure 3. Ladybird beetle pupa (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)
Figure 4. Ladybird beetle (Coccinella septempunctata) (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)
Figure 5. Aphids nestled on wheat head (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)
Figure 6. An aphid “mummy” adhered to a wheat awn.  Mummy is the aphid host converted to enclose a soon-to-emerge parasitoid wasp (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)

Ladybird beetle larvae (Fig. 1-2), pupae (Fig. 2-3), and adults (Fig. 4) can all be found in fields at this time of year.  Take a look at the various stages and the many patterns of native and introduced species to recognize these as Field Heroes!  Ladybird beetles are categorized as general predators and will feed on several species of arthropods but are partial to aphids (Fig. 5).  

Insect of the Week – Natural Enemies of the wheat stem sawfly

This week’s Insects of the Week are the natural enemies (@FieldHeroes) of the wheat stem sawfly, namely Bracon cephi (Gahan) and B. lissogaster (Hymenoptera: Braconidae).

Nine species of parasitic wasps are known to attack wheat stem sawfly but Bracon cephi and B. lissogaster are the main species that help regulate this pest in North America.  These closely related wasp species are described as idiobiont ectoparasitoids meaning the parasitoid larva, after hatching from an egg laid on the surface of the sawfly larva, feeds on the exterior of the host. Normally, both Bracon species will complete their development (i.e., pupates) inside the wheat stem within the integument of the sawfly larva or just beside the consumed host.  There are two generations of B. cephi and B. lissogaster per year.  The first generation normally completes its lifecycle then escapes from the wheat stem to locate a new sawfly larva to parasitize.  The second generation of these wasps will overwinter within the wheat stem.

These wasps are 2-15 mm long and are usually brown in colour. They have a narrow waist connecting the abdomen to the thorax and the combined length of head plus thorax is equal to the length of the abdomen.  These parastiod wasps have long antennae and two pairs of transparent wings. Females have a noticeable ovipositor protruding from the end of the abdomen.

For more information about the natural enemies of the wheat stem sawfly, check out our Insect of the Week page!

Bracon cephi (Gahan) (H. Goulet)

Ladybird beetles

While scouting, you may encounter these fascinating organisms…..

Figure 1. Ladybird beetle larva (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)
Figure 2. Ladybird beetle pupa (Left) and larva (Right) (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)
Figure 3. Ladybird beetle pupa (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)
Figure 4. Ladybird beetle (Coccinella septempunctata) (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)
Figure 5. Aphids nestled on wheat head (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)
Figure 6. An aphid “mummy” adhered to a wheat awn.  Mummy is the aphid host converted to enclose a soon-to-emerge parasitoid wasp (photo credit: AAFC-Beaverlodge)

Ladybird beetle larvae (Fig. 1-2), pupae (Fig. 2-3), and adults (Fig. 4) can all be found in fields at this time of year.  Take a look at the various stages and the many patterns of native and introduced species to recognize these as Field Heroes!  Ladybird beetles are categorized as general predators and will feed on several species of arthropods but are partial to aphids (Fig. 5).  

Insect of the Week – Natural enemies of the canola flower midge

This week’s Insects of the Week are two parasitoid wasps, an Inostemma sp. (Hymenoptera: Platygastridae) and a Gastrancistus sp. (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae). These parasitoids are natural enemies of the canola flower midge (Contarinia brassicola, Diptera: Cecidomyiidae), a newly discovered fly species that uses canola as its host plant. The parasitoids have been found throughout the Prairies emerging from infested galls created by the canola flower midge. Little is known about these two species, but parasitism rates as high as 30% have been noted in northeast Saskatchewan.

Gastrancistrus sp. (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae)
(c) 2016 Boyd Mori, AAFC
Inostemma sp. (Hymenoptera: Platygastridae)
(c) 2016 Boyd Mori, AAFC

Submitted by Dr. Boyd Mori and Dr. Meghan Vankosky

Find out more about the natural enemies of the canola flower midge and more at the Insect of the Week page!

Insect of the Week – Natural enemies of pea aphids

Populations of pea aphids, Acyrthosiphon pisum Harris (Hemiptera: Aphididae), can be kept below the economic threshold by their natural enemies if these are present early and in sufficient numbers. Natural enemies include parasitoids, predators, and diseases that reduce pest populations.

Predators of pea aphids include ladybird beetles (adults and larvae), syrphid fly larvae, and damsel bugs. These predators catch and eat pea aphids of all ages and sizes. They are classified as generalists because they also prey on other insect species.

The many faces of the adult harlequin ladybeetle 
 (aka multicoloured Asian ladybeetle) (Photo: ©Entomart)
Harlequin ladybeetle larva (Photo: cc by-sa Quartl)

Pea aphids are attacked by several species of parasitoid, including Aphidius ervi Haliday (Hymenoptera: Aphidiidae: Aphidiinae). Female parasitoids lay individual eggs inside aphid nymphs. After hatching, the parasitoid larva consumes its host, eventually killing it. The parasitoid pupates inside the dead or mummified aphid before a new adult parasitoid emerges.

Aphid mummies look bloated and discoloured compared to healthy adult aphids. Parasitism rates can be estimated by counting the number of aphid mummies on five host plants at five locations within a field.

Aphidius ervi parasitoid (Photo: cc by Penny Greeves)

For more information about the predators and parasitoids of pea aphids, visit the Insect of the Week page or consult Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management Field Guide.

To learn more about some of the natural enemies fighting pests in background for free, go to www.fieldheroes.ca or follow @FieldHeroes on Twitter.

Blog post submitted by Dr. Meghan Vankosky.
Follow her at @Vanbugsky.

Request for Cereal Leaf Beetle Larvae

Reminder – Researchers need your help – They are looking for LIVE cereal leaf beetle larvae from any field across the Canadian prairies in order to assess Tetrastichus julis parasitism rates.

If larvae are encountered in 2018, please carefully collect 20-30 of them and put them with some cereal leaves and a moist paper towel in a hard container (e.g. plastic yogurt container) with holes poked in the lid for air. Pack the parcel with ice packs, label with your name, date, crop type, and location, and send them to us.  Email or phone us for information on how to ship for free.

What’s in it for you? Learn if cereal leaf beetle is being controlled by natural enemies in your field. If you need T. julis, we may be able provide you with some.

Contact:
Dr. Haley Catton, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
5403 – 1 Ave S, Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 4B1
403-317-3404, haley.catton@canada.ca

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!

Request for Cereal Leaf Beetle Larvae

Researchers need your help – They are looking for LIVE cereal leaf beetle larvae from any field across the Canadian prairies in order to assess Tetrastichus julis parasitism rates.

If larvae are encountered in 2018, please carefully collect 20-30 of them and put them with some cereal leaves and a moist paper towel in a hard container (e.g. plastic yogurt container) with holes poked in the lid for air. Pack the parcel with ice packs, label with your name, date, crop type, and location, and send them to us.  Email or phone us for information on how to ship for free.

What’s in it for you? Learn if cereal leaf beetle is being controlled by natural enemies in your field. If you need T. julis, we may be able provide you with some.

Contact:
Dr. Haley Catton, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
5403 – 1 Ave S, Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 4B1
403-317-3404, haley.catton@canada.ca

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 – Pterostichus melanarius

This week’s insect is the ground beetlePterostichus melanarius (Coleoptera: Carabidae).  This large (12-19 mm), shiny black beetle originates from Europe and probably arrived to North America in the 1920s in ships’ ballasts. It has become a widespread insect throughout North America, particularly in habitats used by humans: urban areas, forests, and agricultural land.

Flight has been the main method of colonization and dispersal for this species. In newly arrived populations of P. melanarius, individuals generally have longer hind wings which allow for more efficient dispersal. After a population has become established in an area, short-winged morphs of the species become dominant.

This species is an excellent example of a generalist predator. Generalist predators include many species of ground beetles, some rove beetles, ants, centipedes and spiders. These arthropods are not picky when it comes to choosing a meal. For example, P. melanarius will eat nearly anything including many different arthropods, earthworms, slugs and even some small vertebrates. Generalist predators are effective in keeping some insects from reaching high numbers that can damage agricultural crops.

Find out more about ground beetles and Pterostichus melanarius at the Insect of the Week page!

Pterostichus
melanariu
s
Photo credit: Henri Goulet (retired), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Photograph
of Pterostichus melanarius catching a fourth-instar P. xylostella in a plastic
container (LRC, Photo credit: A. Mauduit)

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.

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

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

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 – 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 – Trichomalus lucidus

Cabbage seedpod weevil parasitoids


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] 

Early in the season, cabbage seedpod weevil adults can cause canola flower budblasting as they feed on developing flowers and later in the season, they will feed on pods. However it’s the larvae that cause most of the damage by feeding on developing seeds; infested pods are also more prone to shattering and may have a higher incidence of fungal infections. To the rescue are tiny wasp parasitoids that attack the adults (e.g. Microtonus melanopus) and larvae (e.g. Trichomalus lucidus).

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).


Trichomalus lucidus, a cabbage seedpod weevil parasitoid.
CC 3.0 BY-NC-SA CNC/BIO Photography Group, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario

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 – Bertha armyworm parasitoids

Bertha armyworm parasitoids – Ichneumonids and Tachinids


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 tachinids, and ichneumonidae. The adult tachinid will feed on flower nectar, honeydew from aphids, scales, and mealybugs. The tachinid, Athrycia cinerea (Coq.), is a parasitoid of the Bertha armyworm. Ichneumonidae adults also eat nectar and aphid honeydow, however, its larvae (Banchus flavescens, Cresson) are parasitoids of Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera, and some spiders. 

For more information about these parasitoids, 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).

Ichneumonid – adult (Banchus flavescens). © John Gavloski, Manitoba Agriculture

Tachinid- adult. © Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development


Insect of the Week – Rove beetle

Rove Beetle (predator and 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 the rove beetle (Delia spp.), is a generalist predator. The adult feeds on aphids, mites and larvae of many species under plant debris, rocks, dead animals, dung and other materials. The rove beetle larvae have similar hosts as the adult; the larvae of Aleochara spp parasitize various fly species including cabbage root maggot.

For more information about rove beetle, 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).

Adult rove beetle. (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 – Tetrastichus julis

Tetrastichus julis (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 Tetrastichus julis (sorry, no common name), an important cereal leaf beetle parasitoid. Where T. julis has become established, it can reduce cereal leaf beetle populations by 40 – 90%, preventing yield loss without using pesticides. See also the factsheet, Biological Control at its Best, Using the T. julis Wasp to Control the Cereal Leaf Beetle (French version).


For information about the cereal leaf beetle (p. 24) and other pests and their natural enemies, 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).

T. julis adult parasitizing a cereal leaf beetle larva 
– Swaroop Kher, University of Alberta/AAFC


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.

Weekly Update – Cereal leaf beetle predictions

Cereal leaf beetle (Oulema melanopus) – Based on last week’s warm weather, our bioclimate model predicted rapid development of cereal leaf beetle (CLB) populations.


As of May 15, 2016, the CLB model indicated that oviposition is well underway, though this week’s development was slower than the previous week. Model output predicted that egg populations should be peaking this week in both Alberta and Saskatchewan and next week at Swan River  MB. Larval populations are predicted to peak in mid-June in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan and one week later at Swan River MB locations.


Predicted dates of peak emergence of CLB eggs and larvae:






The following model outputs have been updated this week and reflect the predicted stages of CLB present in fields in relation to its parasitoid, Tetrastichus julis




Fact sheets for CLB are published by the province of Alberta and by the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network. Also access the Oulema melanopus page from the new “Field crop and forage pests and their natural enemies in western Canada – Identification and management field guide”.

Weekly Update – Cereal leaf beetle predictions

Cereal leaf beetle (Oulema melanopus) – Based on last week’s warm weather, our bioclimate model predicted rapid development of cereal leaf beetle (CLB) populations.


As of May 8, 2016, model indicated that oviposition is well underway and that larvae should be appearing across southern Alberta and a week later in southern Saskatchewan. Larval populations are predicted to peak in mid-June in southern Alberta and one to two weeks later at the Saskatchewan and Manitoba locations.




Predicted dates of peak emergence of CLB eggs and larvae:



Output suggests that it’s parasitoid, Tetrastichus julis, should be emerging during the period when CLB eggs are most abundant. The model run for Swan River MB showed potential symmetry for both species, though phenologies would be two weeks later than for southern Alberta.





 



Fact sheets for CLB are published by the province of Alberta and by the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network. Also access the Oulema melanopus page from the new “Field crop and forage pests and their natural enemies in western Canada – Identification and management field guide”.

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