Sunflower & Triticale Pests

As the growing season winds down, we are wrapping up our summer series with an Insect of the Week doubleheader: one post featuring both sunflower and triticale pests!

Sunflowers are an eye-catching plant with seeds that have numerous uses: as snacks, as birdseed, and as the raw material to produce sunflower oil.

Sunflowers — AAFC

While sunflowers are grown across the Prairie region, the bulk are grown in Manitoba. In fact, almost 90% of Canadian sunflower production took place in Manitoba in 2019. Over the same year, sunflowers were seeded across 28,000 hectares (69,300 acres) in the Prairies, producing 59,000 metric tonnes (65,000 US tons).

Sunflower field — AAFC

Triticale is the first man-made crop species, and was initially produced through the hybridization of wheat and rye to create this new cereal.

Triticale
cc by 2.0 Jean Weber

Though its origins date back to 19th-century Scotland and Germany, triticale development didn’t begin in Canada until researchers at the University of Manitoba started to breed this cereal crop in 1954. Still grown in the Prairie provinces, triticale is utilized as a food source for both humans and animals. In 2019, triticale was seeded across 42,000 hectares (103,700 acres) across the Prairie region. The resulting harvest produced 63,900 metric tonnes (70,400 US tons).

Triticale field
cc by 2.0 Anita Priks

Several pests target sunflower and triticale alike. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. Additional monitoring protocols exist to control certain pests.

Sunflower Pests

  • Banded sunflower moth
  • Beet cutworm
  • Black cutworm
  • Brown marmorated stink bug
  • Darksided cutworm
  • Dingy cutworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Lygus bugs
  • Painted lady butterfly
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Potato aphid
  • Redbacked cutworm
  • Red sunflower seed weevil
  • Sunflower beetle
  • Sunflower bud moth
  • Sunflower maggot
  • Sunflower midge
  • Sunflower moth
  • Sunflower receptacle maggot
  • Sunflower seed maggot
  • Wireworms
Sunflower beetle – Frank Peairs, bugwood.org, cc-by 3.0

Triticale Pests

  • Cereal leaf beetle
  • Darksided cutworm
  • Fall armyworm
  • Fall field cricket
  • Glassy cutworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Greenbug
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Redbacked cutworm
  • Variegated cutworm
  • Wheat midge
  • Wireworms
Variegated cutworm – James Calisch, bugwood.org, cc-by 3.0

A deep thanks to all who have been reading Insect of the Week 2020! We look forward to publishing a whole new set of posts next season.

Soybean Pests – Week 17

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is soybean, a common crop in Eastern Canada that has become more popular in the Prairie region over the past decade.

Soybeans – AAFC

Despite being a recent crop to Western Canada, soybean cultivation in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba contributed 20% to the national production total in 2019. Ongoing research is being conducted to develop new plant varieties that are better suited to the short growing season and low temperatures characteristic to the Canadian Prairies. In 2019, soybeans where seeded over 658,200 hectares (1.6 million acres) across the Prairie Region, producing 1.2 million metric tonnes (almost 1.4 million US tons).

Several pest species target soybeans. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. Additional monitoring protocols exist to control certain pests.

Soybean field – AAFC

Soybean Pests

  • Alfalfa caterpillar
  • Brown marmorated stink bug
  • Darksided cutworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green cloverworm
  • Lygus bugs
  • Potato leafhopper
  • Saltmarsh caterpillar
  • Seedcorn maggot
  • Soybean aphid
  • Twospotted spider mite
  • Variegated cutworm
Soybean aphid – Robert O’Neil and Ho Jung Yoo, Purdue University, cc-by 2.0

RYE PESTS / FEATURE ENTOMOLOGIST: HALEY CATTON

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is is rye, a cold and drought resistant grain with various uses, including bread and cereal production, and brewing and malting. Our feature entomologist this week is Haley Catton.

Rye – AAFC

A versatile crop, rye grown in the Prairie region has numerous uses, including animal feed production, bread and cereal production and brewing and malting. Rye can also be used as a cover and forage crop. Like wheat, rye comes in winter and spring varieties, with winter rye remaining the most popular across Western Canada. In 2019, rye was grown over 114,100 hectares (281,700 acres) in the Prairies, producing 262,200 metric tonnes (289,000 US tons).

Various pest species target rye. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. Additional monitoring protocols exist to control certain pests.

Rye field – AAFC
Rye Pests
  • Armyworm
  • Black grass bugs
  • Cereal leaf beetle
  • Darksided cutworm
  • Dingy cutworm
  • English green aphid
  • Fall armyworm
  • Fall field cricket
  • Glassy cutworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green-tan grass bugs
  • Breenbug
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Rice leaf bug
  • Variegated cutworm
  • Wheat head armyworm
  • Wheat midge
  • Wheat stem maggot
  • Wheat stem sawfly
  • Wireworms
Fall field cricket – Joseph Berger, bugwood.org, cc-by 3.0

ENTOMOLOGIST OF THE WEEK: HALEY CATTON

Name: Dr. Haley Catton
Affiliation: AAFC-Lethbridge Research and Development Centre
Contact Information: haley.catton@canada.ca
@haleycatton (Twitter)

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?

My team and I often work on developing and refining monitoring methods for certain pests (e.g. wireworms). But, for the past few years we have actively been monitoring one particular tiny little insect – the parasitic wasp T. julis, a natural enemy of the cereal leaf beetle. These beneficial wasps are so small that they are easy to miss with the naked eye, only 2-3 mm long in their adult form! We track them by cutting open cereal leaf beetle larvae to see if they are parasitized. We can find 5-20 little T. julis larvae inside a single cereal leaf beetle larva! For next year, we ask that anyone on the Prairies who sees cereal leaf beetle larvae to send us a sample of 10-30 larvae so we can dissect them. We will tell you if T. julis is on the scene and contributing to management of this potentially damaging pest.

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

That’s tough to pick, all of them are interesting in their own way. But if I have to choose, it will be wireworm. This is a pest made up of several species, with long life spans, lots of host crops, and different behaviours. They can go without food for at least a year, and even moult to become smaller in times of stress. They are a formidable pest, but the more I learn about them, the more interesting the story becomes.

What is your favourite beneficial insect?

Another tough choice. T. julis is pretty spectacular, how it finds its host so effectively, a true “seek and destroy” biological control insect, or Field Hero. We think T. julis is a big reason why cereal leaf beetle has not become a major pest on the Prairies, but that is hard to prove when it is tough to even find larvae to dissect! This “disappearance” phenomenon is a big problem in biological control. When beneficial insects are very successful, the pests are no longer noticeable, and therefore less on people’s minds. The value of the beneficial insects therefore becomes “behind the scenes”, and can be overlooked. This is why more research and awareness are needed on the value and efficacy of beneficial insects, so they can considered and protected.

Tell us about an important/interesting project you are working on right now.

I’m just finishing up a 3-year project on wireworms (funded by AWC and WGRF), and have learned so much. I am working with a team to produce a wireworm field guide for the Prairies, and it is shaping up to be a really nice document. Expected release later this year!

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?

I love giving presentations, going to field days, and talking to farmers. Also, find me on Twitter (@haleycatton), or reach out by email, haley.catton@canada.ca.

Oat Pests / Feature Entomologist: Héctor Cárcamo

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is oat, a plant grown across the Prairies for both food production and livestock feed. Our feature entomologist this week is Héctor Cárcamo.

Oat – AAFC

A versatile food and feed crop, almost 90% of Canadian oat production takes place across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. In 2019 Canada was the world’s third largest oat producer, and number one oat exporter. In the same year, total Prairie production seeded over 1.3 million hectares (3.2 million acres) was over 3.8 million metric tonnes (4.2 million US tons).

Various pest species target oat. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. Additional monitoring protocols exist to control certain pests.

Oat field – AAFC
Oat Pests
  • Army cutworm
  • Armyworm
  • Black grass bugs
  • Cereal leaf beetle
  • Chinch bug
  • Darksided cutworm
  • Dingy cutworm
  • English grain aphid
  • Fall armyworm
  • Fall field cricket
  • Glassy cutworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green grass bugs
  • Greenbug
  • Oat-birdcherry aphid
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Redbacked cutworm
  • Rice leaf bug
  • Say stink bug
  • Variegated cutworm
  • Wheat head armyworm
  • Wheat stem maggot
  • Wireworms
English grain aphids – AAFC

ENTOMOLOGIST OF THE WEEK: Héctor Cárcamo

Name: Héctor Cárcamo
Affiliation: AAFC, Lethbridge Research and Development Centre
Contact Information: hector.carcamo@canada.ca

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?

I contribute by helping to develop survey protocols for resurging native insect pests (wheat stem sawfly, 2003) or new invasive pests (pea leaf weevil, 2005; cereal leaf beetle, 2007). With my team we also conduct surveys to tackle research questions such as farm threshold validations or landscape studies for lygus bugs, cabbage seedpod weevil and cereal leaf beetle. Finally, I collaborate with various researchers in the writing of scientific articles from survey data.  

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

It is difficult to name just one! I really like the wheat stem sawfly because it is so well studied and this allows us to ask more refined ecological questions. Plus it forces us to use non-chemical methods to manage it. But if I had to choose only one to work on…I would pick lygus bugs because they are an extremely challenging and complex pest with populations that can increase rapidly. It seems to be almost ‘unpredictable”! Also it is highly polyphagous and as a species complex, extremely widespread geographically – the tarnished plant bug ranges from Guatemala to Alaska!

What is your favourite beneficial insect?

Well, this is an easy one: a carabid ground beetle of course, my Twitter name gives this one away: @hectorcarabido! Why: because they are so diverse, easy to catch and easy to identify to species. They are also very popular so it is easy to start a conversation over carabid beetles with most entomologists.

Tell us about an important/interesting project you are working on right now.

I am excited about biological control and I am currently leading a national study on biocontrol of cabbage seedpod weevil and I am also equally excited to start the one that got delayed due to COVID-19: A survey of parasitism of lygus nymphs in emerging and established crops.

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?

I regularly do interviews with the farm media and work with the technology transfer platforms used by the various commodity associations that fund our research. I have also contributed to our AAFC fact sheets or other technology transfer publications. Recently I have started to use Twitter and I have participated regularly in the weekly #abbugchat.

Sweet Clover Pests / Feature Entomologist: Sean Prager

This week’s Insect of the Week featured crop is sweet clover: a soil-building, weed suppressing legume. Our feature entomologist this week is Sean Prager.

Sweet clover
cc by 2.0 Phil Gayton

Native to Turkey, Canadian sweet clover includes plants developed from Spanish and Siberian sources. Tolerant to cold, drought and various soil textures, sweet clover is a robust crop that is grown across the Prairies. Sweet clover has a taproot that can grow as deep as 1. 5 metres (5 feet) by the end of spring, adding nitrogen and organic matter to soil. As a forage grazed by livestock, it achieves maximum palatability and feed quality between 25 and 35 centimetres (10-14 inches) in height, as it reaches the bud stage. As sweet clover matures, it loses its palatability. Sweet clover contains a unique chemical called coumarin. When sweet clover is exposed to mold growth, coumarin is converted into the anticoagulant dicoumarol, which poses a risk to livestock consuming contaminated hay or silage. For this reason, proper harvesting of sweet clover for hay or silage is essential.

Sweet clover is vulnerable to several pests. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. Additional monitoring protocols exist to control certain pests.

Sweet clover plant
cc by 2.0 Des Blenkinsopp
Sweet clover pests
  • Alfalfa caterpillar
  • Army cutworm
  • Beet webworm
  • Blister beetle
  • Clover root weevil
  • Grasshoppers
  • Mormon crickets
  • Sweet clover weevil
  • Variegated cutworm
Sweetclover weevil – AAFC

Entomologist of the Week: Sean Prager

Name: Sean Michael Prager
Affiliation: Department of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan
Contact Information:
sean.prager@usask.ca
306-361-8525
Agriculture Building, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A8

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?

I coordinate the Lygus surveys in faba bean as part of the provincial monitoring and survey efforts in Saskatchewan. Our lab also occasionally conducts other studies that result in pest information for crops in the prairies.

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

The first insects I worked on were mosquitoes. Because of that experience, I have always been really interested in disease vectors. On the Prairies, Aster Leafhoppers are a vector and pest that have some pretty neat aspects to their biology. They can be a major problem in canola; although the events are rare. Finally, they are also really useful for many of the ecological questions our lab asks.

What is your favourite beneficial insect?

As a postdoc, I studied a small parasitoid wasp called Aphelinus rhamni. It is a species that parasitizes aphids, especially soybean aphid. It was collected in Asia and has potential as a classical biological control agent.

Tell us about an interesting project you are working on right now.

I think the work we are doing to develop thresholds for aphids in pulse crops will be very useful on the Prairies and is quite interesting. Similarly, the work we have been doing on Lesser clover leaf weevils in red clover has been interesting as well and will hopefully be important to industry.

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?

We use many of the standard tools. My lab has a website (www.pragerlab.ca), a twitter account (@USaskENt), and Instagram. We are more active in some places than others. In addition to that, members of my lab often attend field days and grower meetings.

Clover Pests / Feature Entomologist: Vincent Hervet

This week’s Insect of the Week featured crop is clover: a plant used both as a cover crop and in pasture blends. Our feature entomologist this week is Vincent Hervet.

Red clover
cc by 2.0 George Hodan

While there are numerous clover species, we will be looking at three clovers that are common across the Prairie region: red clover, white clover, and alsike clover. All are short-lived perennial legumes used for pasture and hay production, with red and white clover also used for silage (in mixture with grasses). All three species are cold-tolerant, though each clover is best suited to its own peak soil conditions. All three clovers are palatable and digestible to livestock, though it’s recommended that clover content in a pasture mix never exceed 30% to avoid bloating in cattle and other livestock. In addition to all this, all three species provide pollen and nectar, and attract insects like the bumblebee.  

Certain pests target clover. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. Additional monitoring protocols exist to control certain pests.

White clover
cc by 2.0 Trish Steele
Clover Pests
  • Alfalfa caterpillar
  • Alfalfa looper
  • Alfalfa weevil
  • Black cutworm
  • Clover cutworm
  • Clover leaf weevil
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green cloverworm
  • Less clover weevil
  • Pea aphid
  • Pea leaf weevil
  • Potato aphid
  • Potato leafhopper
  • Red clover casebearer moth
  • Saltmarsh caterpillar
  • Variegated cutworm
Clover cutworm – AAFC

Entomologist of the Week: Vincent Hervet

Name: Vincent Hervet
Affiliation: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Contact Information: Email: vincent.hervet@canada.ca; Tel: 204-915-6918

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?

I was previously involved with the monitoring of cereal leaf beetle, diamondback moth, and cutworms in southern Alberta. I am currently planning a monitoring program for pests of stored seeds across the Canadian Prairies.

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

We can find that all species, pests and non-pests, are fascinating if we look close enough. For example, the cereal leaf beetle belongs in the family commonly known as “leaf beetles” and scientifically known as “Chrysomelidae” (from the Greek word “Chrysos” = gold, an allusion to the shininess of most species). Cereal leaf beetles neatly eat the soft parenchyma tissue between the parallel longitudinal veins of cereal leaves and other grasses. Larvae cover themselves with their own feces and a moist secretion, which is often referred to as the “fecal coat”. It provides them protection and camouflage. Ironically, this fecal coat also attracts the parasitoid Tetrastichus julis, the arch nemesis of the cereal leaf beetle in North America.

What is your favourite beneficial insect?

Rather than a single species my favourite beneficial insect is a group of species: parasitoids. Inconspicuous little critters, they are ubiquitous and represent about 10% of all known insect species on Earth. From Tetrastichus julis that keeps the cereal leaf beetle in check in North America, Bracon cephi that keeps wheat stem sawfly in check on the prairies, Macroglenes penetrans that keeps wheat midge in check where it is established, Cotesia glomerata that keeps imported cabbageworm in check in North America, Diolcogaster claritibia that seems to be keeping diamondback moth for the most part in check in southern Alberta since at least 2010, to an undescribed species of Cotesia that appears to keep the alfalfa looper in check (a system that has not been studied because the alfalfa looper is not a big deal―likely thanks to this unknown parasitoid species), and many more, parasitoids are the true silver bullets against insect pests. Insect pest problems could be brought to an end if we could have one effective parasitoid species for each insect pest species and preserve them.

Tell us about an important project you are working on right now.

I am currently working on the detection and control of the bean weevil in stored beans. The bean weevil is a quarantine species for India, our main importer of beans, and bean prices would increase if we could ensure no bean weevils in shipments. I am currently looking for live bean weevils for research. Please contact me if you encounter any!

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?

I most frequently rely on email and telephone.

Alfalfa Pests / Feature Entomologist: Tyler Wist

This week’s Insect of the Week featured crop is alfalfa: a perennial legume known as “the Queen of Forage Crops.” Our feature entomologist this week is Tyler Wist.

Alfalfa – AAFC

A crop indispensable to Canadian livestock production, alfalfa is a high protein forage used for pasture, hay and silage. Since 1950, improved alfalfa cultivars have been developed for growth in the Prairie region. In particular, Variegated alfalfa is a subspecies developed by cross breeding Flemish alfalfa with Siberian alfalfa. The resulting cultivar is known for both its winter hardiness and resilience to drought and is grown across Western Canada. Because alfalfa is so integral to livestock industries, alfalfa seed is a notable Canadian export, with almost all seed production occurring in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Several pest insects target alfalfa. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. Additional monitoring protocols exist to control certain pests.

Alfalfa field – AAFC
Alfalfa Pests
  • Alfalfa blotch leafminer
  • Alfalfa caterpillar
  • Alfalfa looper
  • Alfalfa weevil
  • Army cutworm
  • Armyworm
  • Aster leafhopper
  • Beet webworm
  • Bertha armyworm
  • Black cutworm
  • Black grass bugs
  • Blister beetles
  • Clover leaf weevils
  • Clover root weevils
  • Dingy cutworm
  • Fall field cricket
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green cloverworm
  • Lygus bugs
  • Mormon cricket
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Pea aphid
  • Pea leaf weevil
  • Potato leaf weevil
  • Potato leafhopper
  • Redbacked cutworm
  • Saltmarsh caterpillar
  • Superb stink bug
  • Sweetclover weevil
  • Twospotted spider mite
  • Variegated cutworm
Alfalfa looper – AAFC

Entomologist of the Week: Tyler Wist

Name: Tyler Wist
Affiliation: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon Research and Development Centre
Contact Information: Tyler.Wist@canada.ca

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?

I’m involved in insect surveillance, including a project to ground-truth the use of wind trajectories to predict the arrival of aster leafhoppers (and diamondback moths) in the spring. I also monitor for aphids in cereals and pea crops in July and August as part of projects that I run as a Field Crop Entomologist with AAFC.

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

I’ve always been fascinated by aphids because in North America, our pest species are all female. Unlike the majority of insects, these female aphids are born pregnant and they give birth to live, ready-to eat your crop, clones of themselves. Those freshly-birthed offspring already have little clones of themselves starting to mature within them. Thanks to this reproductive strategy, aphid populations can increase quickly and overwhelm their host plants. Right now I’m really interested in pea aphids and their effect on lentils and faba bean. We had high enough pea aphid pressure in my plots last season (2019) that many of our plots yielded nothing which reinforces that this insect is worth studying in these crops.

What is your favourite beneficial insect?

My favourite beneficial insect is the green lacewing larva, which is a generalist predator, so generalist that one once tried to eat me. It is such a fierce predator that female green lacewings have to lay their eggs on the underside of leaves on stalks so that the first-hatched green lacewing larvae do not eat their siblings! The lacewing larva feeds by piercing it’s prey with huge mandibles, then injects a digestive enzyme that liquefies the prey inside its hard, outer exoskeleton. Once their food is liquefied, the larva proceeds to suck the prey dry until all that remains is an empty shell of the insect prey. 

Tell us about an important project you are working on right now.

I’ve alluded to two projects already, one funded by WGRF to look at the origins and arrivals of aster leafhoppers to the prairies and see if they are flying in on the same winds as the diamondback moth and one funded by ADF and WGRF to evaluate the yield loss caused by pea aphids. Another important project is to find alternative wheat resistance against wheat midge so that agriculture is not so heavily reliant on using wheat with the Sm1 gene.

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?

I communicate to stakeholders with reports to funding agencies, PowerPoint presentations at grower/agronomist meetings, using Twitter, email and sometimes even over the phone!

Forage Grass Pests / Feature Entomologist: Chrystel Olivier

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is forage grasses: common Prairie plants know to be robust, adaptive, and tolerant to grazing. Our feature entomologist this week is Chrystel Olivier.

Crested wheatgrass
cc by 2.0 Matt Lavin

The total cattle population in the Prairie region is 7.7 million animals: over three times the combined population of Atlantic Canada, according to the 2016 census. In order to feed millions of cattle and other livestock, forage is an important component to Prairie agriculture. Forage grasses include native and nonnative grass species grown for grazing, as well as hay and silage production. Sometimes doubling as cover crops in order to prevent soil erosion and nutrient loss, forage grasses are resilient, multi-purpose crops used to sustain livestock: either as a nutritional source in-pasture or as hay and silage used to supplement or replace grazing during the off-season. Common species include timothy grass, crested wheatgrass, and orchard grass.

A number of pests target forage grasses. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. Additional monitoring protocols exist to control certain pests.

Hay bales
cc by 2.0 Bruce Guenter
Forage Grass Pests
  • Army cutworm
  • Armyworm
  • Aster leafhopper
  • Black grass bugs
  • Cereal leaf beetle
  • Chinch bug
  • Corn leaf aphid
  • Dingy cutworm
  • Fall armyworm
  • Glassy cutworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green grass bugs
  • Greenbug
  • Hessian fly
  • Mormon cricket
  • Rice leaf bug
  • Russian wheat aphid
  • Variegated cutworm
  • Wheat head armyworm
  • Wheat stem maggot
Cereal leaf beetle – Boris Loboda

Entomologist of the Week: Chrystel Olivier

Name: Chrystel Olivier
Affiliation: AAFC-Saskatoon
Contact Information: Chrystel.olivier@canada.ca

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?

We are monitoring the aster leafhopper (Macrosteles quadrilineatus) that vectors aster yellow (AY) diseases and two species of flea beetles, the crucifer flea beetle (Phyllotreta cruciferae) and the striped flea beetle (Phyllotreta striolata) that feed on canola seedlings. We monitor for these species throughout SK using sweep nets and sticky cards. We record the emergence dates of the flea beetles in spring and their abundance in spring and fall. We also note when migratory aster leafhoppers arrive in the spring and their rate of AY infection. 

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

The most interesting field crop pest is the aster leafhopper. It is a small insect (about 4 mm long) that migrates from the southern US states to the Canadian prairies, carried by the wind. It is an efficient vector of the economically important aster yellow disease. Aster yellow phytoplasma infect over 300 plant species, including canola, cereals and many vegetables grown in Canada. Phytoplasma are fascinating because they modify the feeding and reproduction behavior of their insect vectors to their own advantage. For example, AY-infected aster leafhoppers live longer, lay more eggs and can feed on plants they usually don’t feed on, all to increase spread of the pathogen.  

What is your favourite beneficial insect?

My favourite beneficial insects are dragonflies. They are sky acrobats, and can fly in every direction, even backwards.

Tell us about an important project you are working on right now.

An important project I am working on right now investigates if hairy lines of brassicas can be used to protect seedlings from feeding and oviposition of flea beetles, diamond-back moths and aster leafhopper. This project is funded by the Canola Agronomic Research Program (CARP). Trichomes (hairs) are known to deter herbivorous insects and have been used as a deterrent with success in several crops. Recently, natural lines of Brassica napus, and the related Brassica villosa species, that exhibited high level of hairs were identified as potential sources of natural resistance towards flea beetles, diamond-back moths and aster leafhoppers. This project involves both field trials and laboratory-based bioassays. 

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?

Communication is mostly via peer-reviewed publications, written reports to the funding agencies, and oral presentations during grower/agronomist meetings and conferences. I often speak about insects to groups of all ages at parks and other community events across Saskatchewan.

Sugar Beet Pests / Feature Entomologist: James Tansey

This week’s Insect of the Week featured crop is the sugar beet, a plant that has been grown in southern Alberta since 1925. Our feature entomologist this week is James Tansey.

Sugar Beet
cc by 2.0 Ulrike Leone

Introduced to the Prairies in the mid-20s, sugar beets are the single 100% Canadian sugar source. A crop that loves heat and water, sugar beets require irrigation to thrive. Alberta produces most of the sugar beet in Canada (only Prairie producer) with the rest produced in Ontario. In 2019, sugar beets were seeded on 11,500 hectares (28,500 acres) in Alberta, producing 520,700 metric tonnes (574,000 US tons). This was a 39% decrease compared to 2018 due to unseasonable cold in September and October.

Several pests target sugar beets. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. Additional monitoring protocols exist to control certain pests.

Sugar Beet Field
cc by 2.0 Gille San Martin
Sugar Beet Pests
  • Army cutworm
  • Beet webworm
  • Blister beetle
  • Clover cutworm
  • European corn borer
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Redbacked cutworm
  • Saltmarsh caterpillar
  • Sugar beet root aphid
Saltmarsh caterpillar moth – AAFC

Entomologist of the Week: James Tansey

Name: Dr. James Tansey
Affiliation: Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
Contact Information: James Tansey PhD
Provincial Specialist, Insect/Pest Management
Production Technology
Crops and Irrigation Branch, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
3085 Albert Street; Room 125
Regina, Canada S4S 0B1
Business: 306-787-4669
Cell: 306-520-3525

HOW DO YOU CONTRIBUTE IN INSECT MONITORING OR SURVEILLANCE ON THE PRAIRIES?

I help to coordinate and conduct insect surveys in several crops throughout Saskatchewan and coordinate diagnostics with the Crop Protection Laboratory located in Regina.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING FIELD CROP PEST ON THE PRAIRIES?

Predatory midges are very cool. Like flea beetles, there is still so much we do not know about these important insects.  

TELL US ABOUT AN IMPORTANT PROJECT YOU ARE WORKING ON RIGHT NOW.

I am working on a project to establish thresholds for pea aphid in field peas and lentils. This project is in collaboration with AAFC and utilizes the expertise of the Redvers, Outlook and Swift Current Agri-ARM sites.

WHAT TOOLS, PLATFORMS, ETC. DO YOU USE TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR STAKEHOLDERS?

I communicate with stakeholders at extension meetings, field days, and Crop Diagnostic School and use tools including webinars, Twitter, and the telephone.

Flax Pests / Feature Entomologist: Boyd Mori

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is flax, a crop that thrives in cooler environments. Our feature entomologist this week is Boyd Mori.

Flax Field
Ian Patterson cc by sa 2.0

Flax is a versatile crop grown across the Canadian Prairies, and is used in cooking, animal nutrition, and industrial production. Since 1994 Canada has been the largest flax producer and exporter in the world (Flax Council of Canada, 2020). In 2019 flax was grown on 375,700 hectares (928,500 acres) across the Prairies, producing 483,000 metric tonnes (532,400 US tons). Just under 80% of that total was grown in Saskatchewan.

Flax crops are susceptible to a number of pests. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. Additional monitoring protocols exist to control certain pests

Flax Pests:
  • Army cutworm
  • Aster leafhopper
  • Beet webworm
  • Bertha armyworm
  • Clover cutworm
  • Darksided cutworm
  • Dingy cutworm
  • Flax bollworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Potato aphid
  • Redbacked cutworm
Redbacked cutworm, larval stage – AAFC

Entomologist of the Week: Boyd Mori

Name: Boyd Mori
Affiliation: Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Alberta
Contact Information: bmori@ualberta.ca twitter: @BoydMori

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies? 

I actively participate in the PPMN. In my position at the U of A, I help monitor bertha armyworm and wheat midge at sites in North-Central Alberta.Next year, my research group will have a project that will try to verify the source of diamondback moths captured in pheromone traps. We will also be re-evaluating the wheat midge pheromone monitoring system with Dr. Maya Evenden (U of A). In the past, my former research group (AAFC-Saskatoon) along with Dr. Meghan Vankosky ran the survey for the canola flower midge in SK and MB and I occasionally helped with the pea leaf weevil survey in SK. I have also been involved with verifying some of the monitoring protocols used by all members of the PPMN.

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

Probably not a surprise to most, but I am going to have to say the canola flower midge, an insect I helped to recently discover and describe. The canola flower midge was previously mistaken for the swede midge, a significant pest of canola and other cruciferous vegetable crops in Ontario. Luckily, the canola flower midge is not as damaging as the swede midge (at least so far), and we are still trying to determine its overall pest status. What makes it really interesting is that we don’t know where the canola flower midge came from. We don’t know if it is a native or invasive species, although we tend to think it is native to the Prairies. We hypothesize it may have switched hosts to canola as acreage increased over the last 40 years, but we don’t know what is its original host plant was. There is a lot of interesting research to come on this species!

What is your favourite beneficial insect? 

I am partial to hover flies (Syrphids). The adult flies are often mistaken for bees due to their colouration, but they are harmless and actually help to pollinate many different plants. The larvae are active predators within crops, feeding on a variety of soft-bodied insects, especially aphids.

Tell us about an important project you are working on right now. 

I am currently working on a project with Dr. Hector Carcamo (AAFC-Lethbridge) and Jennifer Otani (AAFC-Beaverlodge) investigating insecticide resistance in alfalfa weevil in southern Alberta. We have identified a few populations with resistance to synthetic pyrethroids and we now have a graduate student, Michelle Reid, whose project will map resistance and also the presence of parasitoids throughout southern Alberta. We don’t see much insecticide resistance on the Prairies compared to other regions of the world, so this is a unique project.

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders? 

I enjoy giving presentations, speaking with farmers and actively participating in extension events (e.g., CanolaPalooza, WheatStalk, Crop walks, etc.) and AGMs each year. Results of our work is published by industry magazines, blogs and newsletters. You can also reach me directly via email or Twitter (@BoydMori). Hopefully my research group will have a functional website soon too.

Corn Pests / Feature Entomologist: Maya Evenden

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is corn, which has become more prominent on the Prairies. Our feature entomologist this week is Maya Evenden (Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta).

Corn Crop
cc by 2.0 Edwin Ijsman

While the bulk of Canadian corn is grown in Ontario and Quebec, the Prairies are not without robust corn production, split between corn for grain and corn for silage. In 2019, corn was grown on 404,800 hectares (992,300 acres) across the Prairies, producing 5.44 million metric tonnes (6 million US tons). Over three quarters of this amount was corn for silage, and the remainder corn for grain.

Corn crops are susceptible to several pests. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. Additional monitoring protocols exist to control certain pests.

Corn pests:
  • Armyworm
  • Black cutworm
  • Brown marmorated stink bug
  • Cereal leaf beetle
  • Chinch bug
  • Corn earworm
  • Corn leaf aphid
  • Darkside cutworm
  • Dingy cutworm
  • European corn borer
  • Fall armyworm
  • Glassy cutworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green cloverworm
  • Green-tan grass bugs
  • Greenbugs
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Potato aphid
  • Redbacked cutworm
  • Rice leaf bug
  • Saltmarsh caterpillar
  • Twospotted spider mite
  • Variegated cutworm
  • Wheat stem sawfly
  • Wireworms
European corn borer, larval stage
AAFC

Entomologist of the Week: Maya Evenden

Name: Maya Evenden
Affiliation: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta
Contact Information: mevenden@ualberta.ca; @MayaEvenden on twitter

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?
  • My research group develops semiochemical-based monitoring tools that target insects of environmental and economic impact in Alberta.  For field crop pests, we have developed and tested semiochemical-based monitoring tools for 1) diamondback moth; 2) pea leaf weevil; 3) red clover casebearer 4) cutworms and 5) wheat midge.
  •  We also work on other non-target species that are captured in monitoring traps (bycatch).  This provides information on biodiversity and community composition of arthropods in managed agroecosystems.
  • I am an active member of the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network.
In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?
  • I am partial to the Bertha armyworm because:
    • It’s a moth (and I love moths)
    • Larvae march like an army
    • It is a native insect that exploits agricultural crops planted in its habitat
    • Pheromone-based monitoring is useful because moths can be caught before eggs are laid in the field to warn producers of the current season’s feeding damage
What is your favourite beneficial insect?
  • I like the diamondback moth parasitoid, Diadegma insulare because:
    • It is a specialist on diamondback moth (although it will parasitize other Lepidoptera)
    • It tracks diamondback moth migration to the Prairie Provinces
    • It can result in a high level of parasitism of diamondback moth populations
    • It is highly susceptible to pesticide applications
Tell us about an important project you are working on right now.
  • We are currently documenting the biodiversity and abundance of ground beetles in pulse crops in Alberta.  We will find out the community composition of ground beetle predators in pulse fields, the landscape features with which they are associated, and what they eat.  My PhD student Maggie MacDonald is leading this research and we are collaborating with Dr. Boyd Mori on the assessment of beetle gut content using molecular methods.
What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?
  •  We communicate with stakeholders through in-person updates at field days and annual meetings.  In addition, we publish updates in grower magazines (i.e. Top Crop Manager), newsletters and grower websites.  We communicate with grower organizations through research updates.  I also communicate directly with stakeholders through email and twitter @MayaEvenden.

Barley Pests / Feature Entomologist: John Gavloski

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is barley, an important Prairie cereal (and not just because it’s an essential ingredient for beer). Our feature entomologist this week is John Gavloski (Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development).

Barley Crop
cc by 2.0 Ian Britton

Without barley, there would be no beer. And the world wept. Thankfully, plenty of barley is grown on the Prairies, not just for beer but also as feed. Roughly 96% of the barley grown on the Prairies is split equally between Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 2019, total Prairie production on 2.85 million hectares (7.05 million acres) was 9.93 million metric tonnes (10.95 million US tons).

A number of pests can be found in barley fields. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in the Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. More detailed protocols exist for some of the pests.

Barley Pests
  • Army cutworm
  • Armyworm
  • Barley thrips
  • Black grass bugs
  • Brown wheat mite
  • Cereal leaf beetle
  • Chinch bug
  • Corn leaf aphid
  • Darksided cutworm
  • Dingy cutworm
  • English grain aphid
  • Fall armyworm
  • Fall field cricket
  • Glassy cutworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green-tan grass bugs
  • Greenbug
  • Haanchen barley mealybug
  • Mormon cricket
  • Oat-birdcherry aphid
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Redbacked cutworm
  • Rice leaf bug
  • Russian wheat aphid
  • Say stink bug
  • Variegated cutworm
  • Wheat head armyworm
  • Wheat stem maggot
  • Wireworms

ENTOMOLOGIST OF THE WEEK: John Gavloski

Name: John Gavloski
Affiliation: Manitoba Agriculture and Resource DevelopmentContact Information: John.Gavloski@gov.mb.ca, @Johnthebugguy

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?

I organize annual monitoring programs for diamondback moth, bertha armyworm and grasshoppers in Manitoba. I am also currently monitoring the distribution and levels of cabbage seedpod weevil and pea leaf weevil in Manitoba. 

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

Grasshoppers, as a group of insects, are quite interesting. In Canada there are about 180 species of grasshoppers, but only a few cause economic damage to crops. I have enjoyed the sights, sounds, and tastes of grasshoppers; yes you read that last part correctly! The pest species like dry conditions. In late-spring or early-summer we often start to see species of grasshoppers with colourful and almost butterfly-like hind wings; when they fly you get flashes of orange, yellow, and black. None of these are pest species, but cool to observe. Others are good mimics, and can blend in with sand, gravel or leaves very well. Late in the summer it is always a treat to hear the singing of grasshoppers, especially the katydids, which are not pests and are usually green with long antennae. And yes, I have eaten grasshoppers, at an entomology conference featuring an insect banquet. I did enjoy them – anything cooked in a flavourful sauce is good, but I suggest  removing the wings if you ever try them – too much cuticle. I guess this bout of entomophagy makes me and the other entomologists at the banquet natural enemies of grasshoppers.

What is your favourite beneficial insect?

This is a really tough, as there are so many fascinating beneficial insects! Hover flies are a family of flies (Syrphidae) with many beneficial and interesting attributes. They are predators, pollinators, masters of mimicry, and it is fun to watch the larvae feed. There are 539 species of hover flies in Canada. Adults are good pollinators that are great at mimicking wasps and bees, come in a variety of sizes, and can often be seen hovering near flowers. The slug-like, legless larvae of many hover flies feed on aphids by impaling an aphid with its mouthparts, holding it up, sucking the fluids out of the body, and discarding the exoskeleton. It makes for a great show. I try to raise awareness about hover flies so that people know they are not wasps or bees, cannot sting and are beneficial in many ways.

Tell us about an important project you are working on right now.

I am tracking the distribution and densities of cereal leaf beetle in Manitoba. It was first found in the northwest region of Manitoba in 2009. A small parasitic wasp called Tetrastichus julis was introduced shortly after cereal leaf beetles were detected. I have been tracking the spread and densities of both the pest and the parasitoid across Manitoba. Cereal leaf beetle larvae are sent to AAFC-Lethbridge where they are dissected to determine the level of parasitism. If the level is low, parasitoids are sent to me for release in Manitoba in areas where they may be lacking. I will be assessing levels of cereal leaf beetle larvae again this year, and hopefully releasing more wasps if needed.

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?

I enjoy doing presentations for academics, producers, agronomists, and the general public. I co-produce the Manitoba Crop Pest Update from May through August. This is an opportunity to communicate current types and levels of insect activity in Manitoba. I like producing factsheets, for pests and beneficial insects, that are available on our department’s website. An information campaign that has been fun to contribute to is “Field Heroes”, which provides information to help raise awareness and provide information about beneficial insects. Until several of the rural newspapers in Manitoba closed recently, I produced a monthly column called “Incredible Creatures” that several of the rural newspapers carried.

Bean Pests / Feature Entomologist: Jennifer Otani

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is dry bean, one of a number of important Prairie pulse crops. Our feature entomologist this week is Jennifer Otani (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada).

Fava Bean Crop
cc by 2.0 Phillip Halling

Dry bean, an important pulse crop, has seen modest but steady gains over the last five years. On the Prairies, Manitoba leads in both area (71%) and production (60%) (2019, StatsCan). Total Prairie production was 184,200 tonnes (203,046 US tons) on 96,000 hectares (237,400 acres).

A number of pests can be found in bean fields. Monitoring and scouting protocols as well as economic thresholds (when available) are found in the Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. More detailed protocols exist for some of the pests.

Bean Pests
  • Alfalfa caterpillar
  • Black cutworm
  • Blister beetles
  • Green cloverworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Pea aphid
  • Pea leaf weevil
  • Wireworms
  • Saltmarsh caterpillar
  • Seedcorn maggot
  • Twospotted spider mite
  • Variegated cutworm
  • Wireworms

When scouting, keep in mind that some of these pests may originate in neighbouring crops (e.g. alfalfa caterpillar).

Pea aphid – AAFC

Entomologist of the Week

Name: Jennifer Otani

Affiliation: Pest Management Scientist, Beaverlodge Research Farm, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Contact Information: Jennifer.otani@canada.ca, @bugs5132

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?

The Pest Management Program based at the Beaverlodge Research Farm monitors and studies economic insect pests in annual crops, perennial grasses and legumes grown for seed. Our projects have focused on monitoring Lygus and root maggots in canola, red clover casebearer and clover-feeding weevils in clover seed production systems, and wheat midge. The program also monitors pests and beneficial insects in canola, alfalfa, wheat, clovers and grasses grown throughout the BC and Alberta portions of the Peace River region. Data collection supports the development of integrated pest management strategies suited to the region and supports regional and provincial insect pest surveillance and growers. I am the co-chair of the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network, and have supported the Network for many years as a researcher, collaborator, and editor for the PPMN’s Weekly Update and Blog.

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

I have two – one that’s kept me employed and one that scares me! Lygus bugscontinue to intrigue on so many levels. There are several species (a “complex”), that are native to the Canadian prairies. They affect a diverse range of plants and they can adjust to a region by producing more or less generations per season.  My other favourite is the red clover casebearer (Coleophora deauratella) – I have tremendous respect for any larva that carries its home around and can chew through plexiglass glue to escape from cages!

What is your favourite beneficial insect?

I love dragonflies – both the aquatic and aerial life stages are simply amazing! Dragonflies are important indicators of ecosystem health. Both the nymphs and adults are fierce predators. I’m also tremendously fond of the Peristenus formerly known as Otaniaea.  After years of collecting, rearing and forwarding beautiful specimens to support Dr. Henri Goulet’s work to revise the genus, he generously named this native braconid parasitoid after me. The species was later synonymized but, after so many years studying this pest-parasitoid complex, I’m still very honoured to have a beneficial wasp that attacks Lygus linked to my name!

Tell us about an important project you are working on right now.

Our program continues to work towards making the most of our samples by addressing species of both pest and beneficial insects. We are fortunate to work in a variety of host crops including canola, wheat, peas, alfalfa, creeping red fescue, plus red and alsike clover. This growing season, we now have an enhanced opportunity to continue more of this work in perennial grasses and legumes grown for seed. It’s important because perennials grown for seed, turf and forage markets are common throughout the region with fields remaining in crop 3-5 years and they may be an important reservoir for beneficial insects who traverse beyond field edges. Projects like these, involving our long-term monitoring and surveying research in both annual and perennial field crops, produce data sets we can direct towards the first iteration of the Beneficial Insects project lead by Dr. Haley Catton. We are working to make multiple years of canola survey data, some of our field plot data, and portions of our natural enemies data available to better define interactions and the economic value associated with the interaction of pests and beneficial insects in our fields.

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?

In addition to normal project reporting and publishing results, I actively support tech-transfer events at regional, provincial and national levels. The Pest Management Program has an unofficial lab Blog (http://insectpestmanagement.blogspot.com) to help communicate our activities to producer-cooperators, collaborators and potential students. I am also responsible for the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network (prairiepest.ca) which is a vital tool used to communicate with the Canadian agricultural industry. I also communicate using Twitter (@Bugs5132) during the growing season to highlight our research activities and the PPMN, often with the hashtags #PPMNblog and #WestCdnAg.

Peas and Faba Beans Pests / Feature Entomologist: Shelley Barkley

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crops are peas and faba beans, two important Prairie pulse crops. Our feature entomologist this week is Shelley Barkley (Alberta Agriculture and Forestry).

Pea Field
cc by 2.0 Gilles San Martin

Peas and faba beans are relative newcomers to Prairie large-scale agriculture. Up until the 70s, a typical crop rotation may have been some combination of cereal and summer fallow. Dr. Al Slinkard was hired by the University of Saskatchewan-Crop Development Centre (CDC) in 1972 as a pulse breeder, starting a major transformation of Prairie agriculture. First came dry peas and lentils followed by many other pulse crops. Now there is a team of four pulse breeders at the CDC to carry on Dr. Slinkard’s legacy. And of course, let’s not forgot about the many federal, provincial, university and private industry Prairie pulse breeders that have come along since the 70s.

In 2019, dry peas were grown on 1.7 million hectares (4.3 million acres) on the Prairies, yielding 4.2 million tonnes (4.6 million US tons). Faba beans were grown (37,300 hectares / 92,100 acres) and yielded 107,000 tonnes (118,000 US tons).

There are a number of pests that attack these crops with several common to both crops. Monitoring and scouting protocols are found in the Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. More detailed protocols exist for some of the pests.

Pea Pests
  • Alfalfa caterpillar
  • Alfalfa looper
  • Army cutworm
  • Bertha armycutworm
  • Black cutworm
  • Brown marmorated stink bug
  • Clover root curculio
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green cloverworm
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Pea aphid
  • Pea leaf weevil
  • Saltmarsh caterpillar
  • Seedcorn maggot
  • Variegated cutworm
  • Wireworms
Faba Bean Pests
  • Black cutworm
  • Blister beetles
  • Grasshoppers
  • Pea leaf weevil
  • Saltmarsh caterpillar
  • Variegated cutworm
  • Wireworms
Pea leaf weevil
cc by 2.0 Mike Dolinski

Entomologist of the Week: Shelley Barkley

Name: Shelley Barkley
Affiliation: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Contact Information: shelley.barkley@gov.ab.ca, @Megarhyssa                   

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies? 

I am managing the insect monitoring and surveillance program for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry in 2020. 

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies? 

It is not a field crop pest, but lily leaf beetle tops my list. So stunningly beautiful, but so devastating to lilies. I am in a war to bring these animals to a tolerable level in my lily bed without having to resort to removing the lilies. 

Of the field crop pests, I think bertha armyworm is very interesting, especially how it has capitalized on the introduction of canola. Bertha armyworm have taught me population dynamics, and shown me biocontrol at work in the field. You can read that stuff in a text book, but once you see it in real life you have a new appreciation for nature…and science fiction movies.

What is your favourite beneficial insect? 

Ambush bugs are my favourite. I think this species was a model for dragons on Game of Thrones and other works of dragon fiction. All the bumps and lumps on its head and thorax. And those front legs…if only I could have guns like that!

Tell us about an important project you are working on right now. 

Delivering insect survey results to the agriculture industry in AB in a timely fashion is my most important current project. I am supporting the industry to the best of my ability.

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders? 

Twitter, and email are my go to. I also enjoy sharing my photography.

Chickpea and Lentil Pests / Feature (honorary) ‘Entomologist’ Erl Svendsen

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crops are chickpea and lentil and Erl Svendsen is our feature ‘entomologist.’

Lentil Plant
cc by 3.0 Christiaan Kooyman

Lentils (green, red, black beluga, French green, Spanish brown) and chickpeas (desi, kabuli) are important Prairie crops introduced to the region in the 1970s and 1980s. These crops are good options to include in your rotation. Except for a few acres in Ontario, lentils and chickpeas are grown in Alberta and Saskatchewan, with Saskatchewan accounting for 90% of production. In 2019, lentils were grown on 1.5 million hectares (3.8 million acres) and yielded 2.2 metric tonnes (2.4 US tons). Chickpeas were grown on 160,000 hectares (390,000 acres) and yielded 250,000 metric tonnes (280,000 US tons). Over 70% of production is exported.

There are a number of pests that attack these crops, many are common to both crops. Monitoring and scouting protocols are found in the Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. More detailed protocols exist for some of the pests.

Lentil Pests
  • Cutworms
  • Grasshoppers
  • Lygus bugs
  • Pea aphid
  • Wireworms
Chickpea Pests
  • Alfalfa loopers
  • Cutworms
  • Grasshoppers
  • Wireworms
Pea aphid
cc by 2.0 Mike Dolinski

Entomologist of the Week: Erl Svendsen

Name: Erl Svendsen
Affiliation: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Contact Information: erl.svendsen@canada.ca, @ErlSv

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies? 

Full disclosure: I am not an entomologist by any stretch of the imagination. But much of my recent work was been to support the communications efforts by the real entomologists of the network. I was the co-lead for the Cereal Aphid Manager app, and have edited done the layout and design of the recent insect field guides. More recently, I’ve been working with a great team to develop the new PPMN website, to be launched soon. I am also responsible for putting out the Insect of the Week post.

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

Considering I knew very little about the life histories of many of the pest and their natural enemies when I started working the entomologists 7 years ago, it’s hard to pick a favourite. Back to the wall, I would have to say the lowly cutworm. Who knew there were so many pest species with very different behaviours. Which makes them a challenging group to manage.

What is your favourite beneficial insect? 

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for ladybird beetle. Not only are they beautiful and brightly coloured (orange with black spots), they are voracious, gobbling down hundreds (if not thousands) of aphids and other soft-bodied pests in their short lifespan. And unlike many other natural enemies, both the adult and the larva are mighty hunters.

Tell us about an important project you are working on right now. 

I am working with Drs. Haley Catton, Wim van Herk and Julien Saguez on a new Wireworm Field Guide for the Prairies. It summaries all the wireworm research conducted on the Prairies since the 1910s as well as pulling in relevant research from other regions. And of course there will be high quality images throughout. Look for an announcement and download links later this summer.

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders? 

In addition to the PPMN blog (new website to be launched soon), I work with the entomologists to develop manuals and factsheets. I use Twitter (@ErlSv) and have a booths at several extension events throughout the year to promote the PPMN and other AAFC research programs.

Wheat Pests / Feature Entomologist: Dr. Meghan Vankosky

This week’s Insect of the Week feature crop is wheat (durum, spring and winter) and Dr. Meghan Vankosky is our starring entomologist.

Wheat is King on the Prairies and has been since the early 1900s (with recent rivalry for top spot by canola, the Queen of the Prairies). There are many challenges to overcome: droughts, pests, soils and agronomy and scientists and extension specialists have been working alongside farmers to improve the genetics, production practices, equipment and infrastructure. In 2019, despite weather challenges, the area seeded to wheat and the harvest remains impressive:

Area Seeded

Durum:  1,980,200 hectares (4,893,400 acres)
Spring wheat 7,443,500 hectares (18,393,300 acres)
Winter wheat 91,000 hectares (224,900 acres)
Total: 9,514,700 hectares (23,511,600 acres)

Production

Durum: 4,977,000 tonnes (182,872,000 bushels)
Spring wheat: 25,111,000 tonnes (922,672,000 bushels)
Winter wheat: 265,100 tonnes (9,705,000 bushels)
Total: 30,352,100 tonnes (1,115,249,000 bushels)

There are over 30 economic wheat pests. Identification, monitoring and scouting protocols, and management options are found in the Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crop on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field guide. More detailed protocols exist for some of the pests. In the case of cereal aphids (English, oat-bird cherry, greenbug), AAFC developed the Cereal Aphid Manager app to help with identification and management decisions.

Wheat Pests
  • Army cutworm
  • Armyworm
  • Aster leafhopper
  • Black grass bugs
  • Brown marmorated stink bug
  • Brown wheat mite
  • Cereal leaf beetle
  • Chinch bug
  • Corn leaf aphid
  • Darksided cutworm
  • Dingy cutworm
  • English grain aphid
  • Fall armyworm
  • Fall field cricket
  • Glassy cutworm
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green-tan grass bugs
  • Greenbugs
  • Haanchen barley mealybug
  • Hessian fly
  • Mormon cricket
  • Oat-birdcherry aphid
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Redbacked cutworm
  • Rice leaf bug
  • Russian leaf aphid
  • Say stink bug
  • Variegated cutworm
  • Wheat curl mite
  • Wheat head armyworm
  • Wheat midge
  • Wheat stem maggot
  • Wheat stem sawfly
  • Wireworms
Wheat midge – Dr. Bob Elliot, AAFC

ENTOMOLOGIST OF THE WEEK: Meghan Vankosky

Name: Meghan Vankosky
Affiliation: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Contact Information: meghan.vankosky@canada.ca, @vanbugsky

How do you contribute in insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies? 

I am a co-chair of the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network. In addition to participating in insect monitoring of cabbage seedpod weevil, pea leaf weevil, and grasshoppers, I help provide supplies for diamondback moth, swede midge, and bertha armyworm monitoring across the prairies. In addition to the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network, I am involved with the Canadian Plant Health Council in the Surveillance Working Group and a member of the new AAFC Prairie Biovigilance Network.

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

The pea leaf weevil is very interesting. I started researching pest management options for pea leaf weevil during my MSc program in 2008. We are still working on this pest and learning so much about it. I like working with this species because it is usually easy to find specimens for lab work, they are fairly large (by insect standards) which makes them easy to handle, and I have to admit that they are kind of cute – for a pest. 

What is your favourite beneficial insect? 

Parasitoids in general are very cool. I spent a year in southern California working on a biological control program for Asian citrus psyllid. During that time, I worked with two parasitoids and studied how they interact with each other and their host. Of the two, I worked most with Diaphorencyrtus aligarhensis. It is an endoparsitoid that lays its eggs inside its host and kills the host from the inside out. There are many interesting parasitoids on the prairies that help manage field crop pests and I look forward learning more about them.

Tell us about an important project you are working on right now. 

I just finished two projects (co-led by Dr. Boyd Mori) studying the newly discovered canola flower midge (Contarinia brassicola). We are currently working on writing papers to describe our work, but in three years we learned a great deal about the distribution of this insect in western Canada, its development, population genetics, and potential impact on canola production. 

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders? 

I use the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network Blog (soon to be website), Twitter, and extension events to communicate research and insect monitoring results. I am getting better about using Twitter, both in terms of posting and replying, and am looking forward to helping with #abbugchat in 2020.

Canola and Mustard Pests / Feature Entomologist: Owen Olfert

This year, we’re doing things a bit differently for our Insect of the Week. Instead of focussing on a single insect (pest or natural enemy), we’re looking at it from a crop perspective. Each week, we’ll pick a crop and list the insects that attack it along with additional helpful information. The insect list is based on the information found in the Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management field guide. The field guide offers information describing lifecycle, damage description, monitoring/scouting strategies, economic thresholds (where available) and control options) for each economic pest.

In addition to an Insect of the Week, we’ll also feature one of the entomologists that help support the PPMN, either directly or indirectly.

This week’s feature crops are the Brassica oilseeds (mustard and canola) and Dr. Owen Olfert is our starring entomologist.

Canola Field
cc by 2.0 George Hodan

Canola has been gaining ground over wheat in terms of production area, yield and value since it was first introduced on the Prairies. In 2019, 20.4 million tons (18.5 million tonnes) were harvested from 20.4 million acres (8.3 million hectares). Mustard, typically grown in warmer and drier regions than canola, was grown on 398,000 acres (161,000 hectares) across the Prairies to produce 148,000 US tons (134,000 tonnes) across the prairies.

There are several pests that attack these crops, many are common to both crops. Monitoring and scouting protocols are found in the Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management and the Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies: Identification and Management Field Guide. More detailed protocols exist for some of the pests. In addition, you find a Seasonal Canola Insect Scouting Chart showing when specific pests are active on our Pest Insects page. Each pest listed is hyperlinked to additional information.

Canola Pests
  • Alfalfa looper
  • Army cutworm
  • Aster leafhopper
  • Beet webworm
  • Bertha armyworm
  • Blister beetles
  • Bronzed blossom beetle
  • Brown marmorated beetle
  • Cabbage maggot
  • Cabbage seedpod weevil
  • Clover cutworm
  • Darksided cutworm
  • Diamondback cutworm
  • Dingy cutworm
  • Flea beetles
  • Grasshoppers
  • Green peach aphid
  • Imported cabbageworm
  • Lygus bug
  • Painted lady butterfly
  • Rape pollen beetle
  • Red turnip beetle
  • Redbacked cutworm
  • Saltmarsh caterpillar
  • Seedcorn maggot
  • Swede midge
  • Turnip aphid
  • Turnip maggot
Mustard Pests
  • Army cutworm
  • Beet webworm
  • Bertha armyworm
  • Bronzed blossom beetle
  • Cabbage maggot
  • Clover cutworm
  • Diamondback moth
  • Flea beetles
  • Grasshoppers
  • Imported cabbageworm
  • Pale western cutworm
  • Rape pollen beetle
  • Red turnip beetle
  • Redbacked cutworm
  • Swede midge
  • Turnip aphid
  • Turnip maggot

ENTOMOLOGIST OF THE WEEK: Owen Olfert

Name: Owen Olfert
Affiliation: Saskatoon Research and Development Centre, Emeritus
Contact Information: owen.olfert@canada.ca

How do you contribute to insect monitoring or surveillance on the Prairies?

Before I retired, I was the Chair of the PPMN. In collaboration with provincial, federal and industry colleagues, the PPMN makes decisions on insect priorities, develops standardized monitoring protocols, determines timing of surveillance activities, provides appropriate survey tools to collaborators, conducts field surveys, assembles and analyzes data, drafts and presents visual survey results to the agriculture industry. As an Insect Ecologist, I was involved in all of the field and laboratory activities mentioned above.  Over the many years, the crop growing season activities have provided amazing professional opportunities in insect ecology, which overlapped strongly with my farming background.  I have been fortunate to explore all of the agro-ecosystems of the Prairies in search of insect populations that threaten field crops.

In your opinion, what is the most interesting field crop pest on the Prairies?

Not to offend other insect groups, but I think grasshoppers (Acrididae) are most interesting!  My interest in our prairie grasshopper complex began as a summer student with Dr. Roy Pickford (AAFC-Saskatoon) in the early 1970s.  Coincidentally, my first assignment as a research scientist with AAFC involved developing surveillance and management strategies for grasshopper pest species in field crops.  Over the years, my colleagues and I have published about 30 scientific papers related to grasshoppers.

What is your favourite beneficial insect?

My favourite is Macroglenes penetrans (Pteromalidae), a parasitoid of wheat midge (Sitodiplosis mosellana). It is the dominant parasitoid of wheat midge in western Canada. It is an egg-larval parasitoid; the female wasp oviposits into the egg of its host. It was discovered very early during the first major outbreak of wheat midge in the early 1980s.  All of the pest management tools developed for wheat midge have taken this parasitoid into account.  As a result, our estimated total saving in pesticide costs alone due to this parasitoid in the 1990’s was $248.3 million.

Tell us about an important project you are working on right now.

Our most recent project is related to an important agricultural pest – parasitoid – host plant complex, involving wheat midge and its parasitoid mentioned above. The project assesses the interactive population dynamics of the host plant (wheat), wheat midge, and M. penetrans, based on their respective life cycles and weather.  These simulation models helped to detail our understanding of the tri-trophic population dynamics.  The models will help guide pest management decisions prior to and during the growing season.

What tools, platforms, etc. do you use to communicate with your stakeholders?

In addition to the suite of communication tools used by the PPMN, I still attend conferences and get contacted to conduct interviews by the agricultural news media.

Doppelgangers: Giant water bug vs Cockroach

Years ago, I was walking home from the University of Alberta campus on a September evening, watching the ground, as entomologists are wont to do, when I saw a huge insect on its back on the sidewalk. It was just off of a major crosswalk under a streetlight. Upon a quick glance, I knew it was one of two things: a giant water bug or a cockroach. Either way, I needed it for my collection, so I carefully collected it using the only container I had on hand. I say that I “carefully collected” it, because water bugs are known for their painful bite and I did not want to take any risks. From inside the container, it was clear that I had scooped up a water bug.

Giant water bugs (Lethocerus americanus) are true bugs (Hemiptera) that belong to the family Belostomatidae. There are over 150 species of water bugs in the Belostomatidae, but most are quite large (> 2 cm). Belostomatids are usually found in ponds, lakes, or slow moving rivers and streams. They spend most of their time in the water, but disperse between bodies of water by flying (except in species that have reduced wings and are flightless), at which time they may be found around streetlights or porchlights. They are predators of other insects, small fish, snails, amphibians, and other animals that they encounter in the water. Giant water bugs use their forelegs to capture prey and then use their long beak-like proboscis to feed on their prey. First, they inject enzymes into their prey that breakdown prey tissues into a liquid. Then they feast on a liquid lunch by sucking their victim dry. Their bite can be very painful. These ‘toe-biters’ are best avoided, but they are important beneficial insects in aquatic ecosystems.

Giant water bugs can be easily mistaken for adult cockroaches (especially the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, Blattodea: Blattidae). Both water bugs and cockroaches have large, oval shaped bodies that are usually brown coloured. A casual glance or quick encounter with either may lead to a case of mistaken identity. But, upon closer examination, some key differences are easy to see:

  1. Cockroaches have long, obvious antennae. Water bugs do not appear to have antennae unless closely examined.
  2. The head and eyes of water bugs are visible from above. The head and eyes of cockroaches are hidden underneath the pronotum.
  3. Cockroaches have spiny legs evolved for running and quick movement. All six of their legs look the same. Water bugs have forelegs adapted to grabbing prey (raptorial legs). Their legs are also adapted for swimming and have no obvious spines.

Cockroaches are usually classified as pests by humans, but some provide important ecosystem services (i.e. they are decomposers) and others are television and movie stars (i.e. Madagascar hissing cockroaches).

Giant water bug
cc-by-nc 4.0 Christian Schwartz
American cockroach
cc-by-nc 2.0 K. Schneider

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.

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.

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

Doppelgangers: Hoverflies vs. bees vs. yellow jacket wasps

Hoverflies are un-BEE-lievably good mimics of bees and yellow jacket wasps!

Mimicry is used by insects in several ways.
Some insects, like the ambush bug and praying mantis, look like plants. These predators sit very still, blending into their surroundings, and wait very patiently for their unwitting prey to pass by. Other insects, use mimicry to avoid predation, often by taking on the appearance of species with clear markings that are known to be dangerous. Hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) are some of the most convincing mimics of all of the insects. Even experts can have a difficult time distinguishing hoverflies from bees and wasps, especially when working in the field.

Bees (honeybees, solitary bees, native bees; Hymenoptera: Apidae): Bees are important pollinators, usually with distinctive black and yellow strips. Bees have two pairs of wings and are much fuzzier than wasps or hoverflies. Bees have stingers, but are not aggressive under normal circumstances. Some species of bees (e.g. honeybees) have barbed stingers that become lodged inside their victim. When this happens, the stinger is pulled out of the body of the bee and the bee dies. For this reason, bees with barbed stingers only sting as a last resort, in an effort to protect their colony. Bees are beneficial insects that will leave you alone if you leave them alone.

Honeybee
cc-by 2.0 Renee Grayson

Yellow jacket wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae): Yellow jackets and some of their close relatives have colouring similar to bees. Like bees, wasps have two pairs of wings. Unlike bees, which are usually vegetarians, wasps are carnivores that eat other insects. Thus, wasps are beneficial insects, but they also have a bad reputation for harming people because they scavenge for food at our picnics and barbecues during the summer. Wasps also tend to be aggressive and will sting with little provocation.

Yellow jacket wasp
cc-by-nc-nd 2.0 Bryan Jones

Hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae): Hoverflies belong to a completely different order of insects than bees and wasps. Like bees, hoverflies are pollinators and are often observed hovering over flowering plants in fields and gardens. Unlike bees and wasps, hoverflies only have one pair of wings. Hoverflies do not have a stinger. They also do not have biting mouthparts, so they can do no harm to people. Hoverflies protect themselves from predators, and people, by mimicking bees and wasps. In addition to pollinating plants, hoverflies provide another important ecosystem service: their larvae are predators of small plant-dwelling insects like aphids!

Syrphid fly
cc-by-nc-sa 2.0 Eero Sarkkinen

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.

Contributed by Dr. Meghan Vankosky (@vanbugsky). 

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.

Monarch vs. Painted Lady

The case of the Monarch butterfly vs. Painted Lady butterfly (also Viceroy butterfly) An orange butterfly fluttered by. Was it a Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)? Or a Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui)? If it’s a Monarch, it is species of Special Concern listed under the Species at Risk Act and is not a crop pest. Instead, it’s larvae feed solely on milkweed (Asclepias spp.), typically found in wetland areas. Painted Lady larvae, on the other hand, feed on a wider range of plants including sunflower, canola, mustard, borage, soybean, Canada thistle, burdock, knapweed, wormwood and many other plant species. While neither species overwinter in Canada, Monarchs have regular migratory routes into Canada from Mexico through the USA; Painted Ladies are accidental tourists that are on occasion blown up from the US. One important distinguishing characteristic is the distinct black band with white dots that outline the wings of Monarchs. Painted Ladies do not have this band; instead they have thin white markings along the scalloped wing edges.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
cc by sa 3.0 Kenneth Dwain Harrelson
Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui)
cc by 3.0 Jean-Pol Grandmont
Viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus)
cc by 2.0 Benny Mazur

Viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus) are even more difficult to tell from Monarchs. Viceroys are smaller than Monarchs and sport a black line running through the middle (side-to-side) of the hindwing. Like the Monarch, Viceroys are not crop pests as their larvae feed exclusively on trees of the willow family (willow, poplar, cottonwood). For more information about Painted Lady butterflies, see the Insect of the Week page and our posts on the annual Monarch butterfly migration.  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.

Insect of the Week: Doppelgangers: Lygus bugs nymphs vs. aphids

The case of lygus bug nymphs versus aphids: Small, green, soft-bodied, sucking insects – at first glance they could be either lygus bug nymphs or aphids. But spend a moment and look for the following characteristics, and you’ll be able to tell which pest you are dealing with.

  • Size: depending on the species, aphids can reach up to 4 mm long, but most will be 1-2 mm. Lygus bug nymphs will be larger, 4-6 mm long
  • Cornicles (small upright backward-pointing tubes found on the back side at the rear of abdomen): aphids have them, lygus bug nymphs do not. In some aphid species, the cornicles or where they attach to the abdomen are black (e.g. corn aphid, English grain aphid).
  • Markings: older lygus bug nymphs have five distinct black dots on their thorax and abdomen; aphids do not.  

For more information about these species and more tips on telling them apart, see our Insect of the Week page! Also, see our Monitoring protocols for lygus bugs in canola

Tarnished plant bug nymph – note five black dots on thorax and abdomen – Scott Bauer, USDA
English grain aphid – adult and nymphs – note black cornicles (tubes) sticking out the back – Tyler Wist, AAFC

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.

Insect of the Week: Doppelgangers: Lygus bug vs. Alfalfa plant bug

The case of lygus bug versus the alfalfa plant bug: It is easy to understand why lygus bugs (Lygus spp.) and alfalfa plant bugs (Adelphocoris lineolatus) are difficult to tell apart as they are closely related, belonging to the same family (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). They are similar in appearance (long narrow body) with the alfalfa bug being slightly longer. Adult lygus bugs have a distinctive triangular or “V”-shaped marking in the upper centre of the their backs and membranous wingtips. The alfalfa plant bug has a similar marking but it is less distinct. One difference between the two is that lygus bug nymphs have five black dots over their thorax and abdomen which alfalfa bug nymphs lack.

Another difference is that lygus bugs have a broader host range that includes canola, alfalfa, soybean, sunflower, strawberry and several other crops. Alfalfa bugs have a much more particular palette and are mainly found in alfalfa crops and only occasionally feed on red and yellow sweet clover or canola when alfalfa is in short supply.

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

Tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris) – cc-by Scott Bauer
Alfalfa plant bug (Adelphocoris lineolatus) – (c) Mike Dolinski. MikeDolinski@hotmail.com

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.

Insect of the Week – Doppelgangers: Grasshoppers

Bruner grasshopper (Melanoplus bruneri) adult. 
Photo credit: S. Barkley, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

The case of the prairie grasshoppers: There are 80 grasshopper species on the prairies but only a few that are considered pests. These include Packard (Melanopus packardii), clearwinged (Camnula pellucida), migatory (Melanopus sanguinipes), two-striped (Melanopus bivittatus) and Bruner Melanoplus bruneri) grasshoppers. They are recognizable as grasshoppers (similar body shape and distinctive large rear legs) and, depending on the species, range in size from 21 to 40 centimetres (8.25 to 15.75 inches). Most of these pest species can be distinguished by colouring and size. However, the Bruner and migratory grasshoppers are difficult to tell apart, needing to rely on examining the male genitalia (see Insect of the Week post from July , 2018).

For more information about grasshopper pests, see our Insect of the Week page!

Packard grasshopper – egg, nymph, adult
AAFC
Clearwinged grasshopper – egg, nymph, adult
AAFC
Migratory grasshopper – adult
Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org
Two-striped grasshopper – adult
John Gavloski, Manitoba Agriculture,
Food and Rural Development

More information related to the Bruner grasshopper:

See also:

Predicted grasshopper development (July 5, 2019)

Specific information about these grasshoppers, other pests and natural enemies can be found in the updated Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural enemies in Western Canada field guide.

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.

Insect of the Week – Doppelgangers: Cereal leaf beetle vs. Collops beetles

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.

The case of the cereal leaf beetle versus Collops beetles: 

Cereal leaf beetle, Boris Loboda

Cereal leaf beetles (Oulema melanopus), both adults and larva, feed on leaves (oat, barley, wheat, corn, etc), but it is the larval damage that can reduce yield and quality, especially if the flag leaf is stripped. Adults are 6-8 millimeters (.25-.31 inches) long with reddish legs and thorax (middle section between head and abdomen) and metallic bluish-black head and elytra (wing coverings).

Collops beetle, cc-by-nd-nc 1.0 Ashley Bradford

They may be confused with beneficial beetles belonging to the Collops genus (adults feed on aphids, stink bug eggs, moth eggs, small caterpillars, spider mites, whiteflies). Roughly the same size, they may have a red or orange thorax with/without red markings on their elytra, depending on the species. One consistent feature that will help distinguish between the two species is that the cereal leaf beetle elytra are smooth and shiny whereas the Collops’ elytra are covered in hairs.

Specific information on the cereal leaf beetle can be found in the 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.

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.

Insect of the Week – Doppelgangers: Wheat midge vs. Lauxanid

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.

The case of the wheat midge vs. Lauxanid fly:Wheat midge larvae, in high enough numbers, can significantly reduce yield and quality of a wheat crop. The time to control this pest is at the adult stage. The key to determining whether adult numbers exceed the economic threshold for control is to follow the recommended insect pest monitoring protocol.

One hiccup is that it can be easy to mistake lauxanid flies for wheat midge adults when doing in-field scouting. But their size, general body shape and colour differences will help enable a person to tell them apart.

Wheat midge:

  • Thinner “mosquito-like” body (Image 1, left)        
  • Long, thin legs
  • Between 1.5- 2 mm long        
  • Dark, vibrant orange when alive        
  • Large, black eyes that proportionally make up approximately 9/10’s of head

Lauxanid fly:

  • Bulkier body (Image 1, right)        
  • Shorter, compact legs   
  • Between 2 and 4 mm long        
  • Paler, less vibrant orange colour        
  • Smaller eyes that may be black, brown or red. Eyes proportionally make up approximately ½ of head
Image  1: Wheat midge (left) and Lauxanid (right).
Photo Credit: Bob Elliott (ret.), AAFC

Wheat midge larvae (Image 2) will feed on developing wheat kernels and can be found inside the wheat head. Lauxaniid larvae are not recorded as pests of any field crop and tend to be found in decaying leaf litter. Wheat midge larvae can be identified by their bright orange colour, and presence of spatula structure (Fig. 2; y-shaped structure circled below).

Image 2: Wheat midge larvae
Photo credit: AAFC-Jorgensen
Image 3: Wheat midge laying eggs on wheat head.
Photo credit: AAFC-Dufton

More information on wheat midge, other crop pests and their natural enemies, is available by accessing the updated Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural enemies in Western Canada field guide. Also refer to https://MidgeTolerantWheat.ca for the latest information on fighting wheat midge using tolerant wheat varieties.

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

Post contributed by Amanda Jorgensen.

Insect of the Week – Doppelgangers: Bertha armyworm and clover cutworm

The case of the bertha armyworm and the clover cutworm (and other cutworm species)

Clover cutworm larva
cc-by 3.0 Lo Troisfontaine
Bertha armyworm – caterpillar 
Mike Dolinski, MikeDolinski@hotmail.com

Are those bertha armyworms (Mamestra configurata) eating your canola, mustard or alfalfa (also found on lamb’s-quarters, peas, flax, potato)? Or is it maybe a clover cutworm (Discestra trifolii)? [Note: not all cutworm species spend their larval stage underground.] The larvae of the two species are doppelgangers as they are similar in appearance, have a large overlap in host crops, and have similar timing (June-September). Telling them apart can be a challenge but here are few tips to focus on to help distinguish:

Colour:

  • there are generally fewer velvety black clover cutworm caterpillars, with most of the clover cutworm larvae being green or pale brown

Lateral stripe:

  • On the clover cutworm it is yellowish-pink
  • On the bertha armyworm it is yellowish-orange
Climbing cutworm larva – from Cutworm Field Guide
Climbing cutworm adults – from Cutworm Field Guide

In terms of scouting, economic thresholds and control options, treat both species as you would bertha armyworms.

Bertha armyworm – adult
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
Clover cutworm adult
cc-by-nc-sa 2.0 Ilona Loser

To learn more about bertha armyworms and clover cutworms, go to the Insect of the Week page or download copies of the Field Crop and Forage Pests andtheir Natural Enemies in Western Canada and Cutworm Pests of Crops onthe Canadian Prairies identification field guides.

Insect of the Week – Doppelgangers: Pea leaf weevil and other Sitona species

The case of the innocuous versus the evil twin: When making pest management decisions, be sure that the suspect is a 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 monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and viceroys (Limenitis achrippus).  In some cases, doppelgangers are relatively harmless. In others, the doppelganger is a pest too yet behaviour, lifecycle and 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.

The case of the pea weevil and other Sitona species doppelgangers

Weevils of the genus Sitona are broad-nosed weevils that are pests of various legume crops, including field pea, faba bean, alfalfa and sweet clover. Sitona larvae attack the roots of the host plant and usually consume the root nodules and the enclosed symbiotic bacteria that fix nitrogen. Adult Sitona weevils consume plant leaves resulting in ‘U’-shaped feeding notches. Sitona species  known to occur in Canada include:

• Sitona lineatus –  pea leaf weevil (Fig. 1), has two primary hosts: field pea and faba bean.
• Sitona cylindricollis – clover root weevil or sweet clover weevil (Fig. 4).
Sitona hispidulus – clover root curculio* (Fig. 3), a clover pest.
Sitona lineellus –  alfalfa curculio (Fig. 5), eats alfalfa, vetch and field pea.
Sitona obsoletus (=S. flavescens = S. lepidus) – clover root curculio*, a clover pest (Fig. 6).

Note that common names can be used to describe more than one species and can be confusing.

Figure 1. Pea leaf weevil (Sitona lineatus L.).
Photo: AAFC-Sasktoon-Williams.

The above five Sitona species found in Canada are doppelgangers of each other for several reasons:

1. Similar in size and appearance – Require a taxonomic key and microscope to accurately identify to species. Notable difference is Sitona hispidulus which has hairy elytra compared to the other four species which lack hair on their elytra (Fig. 2). 

2.  Sitona weevils share primary and secondary hosts – Pea leaf weevils must feed on primary hosts (i.e., field pea and faba bean) to attain sexual maturation AND the larvae must feed on primary hosts to successfully develop. However, early in the spring and again in the fall, pea leaf weevils feed on virtually any species of legume, including the primary host plants of the other four Sitona species.

3. Foliar feeding damage is similar – According to Weich and Clements (1992), “careful scrutiny” is required to differentiate the feeding damage caused by different Sitona species feeding on the same host plant. Therefore, it is important to collect adult weevils for identification to confirm which species is responsible for foliar damage.

Figure 2. Characteristics of four of the five Sitona species found in Canada, useful when scouting for pea leaf weevils. See  also the pea leaf weevil monitoring protocol. Images © AAFC-Beaverlodge

Species pages for all five species available by searching the species names in the E.H. Strickland Entomology Museum: http://www.entomology.museums.ualberta.ca/searching.php

Figure 3. Clover root curculio (Sitona hispicula Fabricious).
Photo: © Donald Hobern  
Figure 5.  Alfalfa curculio (Sitona lineellus Bonsdorff). 
Photo: © by nc Chris Moody.
Figure 4.  Sweet clover weevil (Sitona cylindricollis Fahreaus). Photo: © Janet Graham.
Figure 6.  Clover root curculio (Sitona obsoletus).
Photo: by K. Walker

More information about pea leaf weevil (Sitona lineatus), and sweetclover weevil (Sitona cylindricollis) can be accessed on the Insect of the Week page. Information related to crop pests and their natural enemies can be found in the newly updated Field Guide and Cutworm Guide. Both are available for free download on our Insect Field Guide and Cutworm Field Guide pages.

Meghan Vankosky (@DrVanbugsky)

Insect of the Week – Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica)

Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) adults
CC-BY 2.0 – C. Watts

The Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) is an invasive pest that has been making steady inroads from the east since being first discovered in North America in 1916 (New Jersey) and in Canada in 1939 (Nova Scotia, Quebec). It has not reached the Prairies yet, but it is found in southern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. It has been detected in Vancouver,British Columbia and CFIA is leading a coordinated eradication program and has implemented efforts to prevent the pest’s spread outside Vancouver. The rest of British Columbia is still considered free of Japanese Beetle. In the USA, Minnesota and to the south and east is infested and North Dakota and south is partially infested. Montana and several other western USA states have implemented quarantine and phytosanitary regulations to protect their agriculture sector.

From late June to August, the adult Japanese beetle can attack the leaves and fruit of more than 300 species including ornamentals (birch, elm, maple, mountain ash, rose, zinnia), fruit and vegetables (apple, apricot, asparagus, blueberry, cherry, grape vine, plum, raspberry) and field crops (corn, soybean). The soil-dwelling larvae feed on roots of many species but prefer grass roots, damaging lawns, turf farms, golf courses and pastures.

The adult beetle is oval: 10-12 millimeters (0.5 inches) long by half as wide. It is metallic green with a brown head and metallic bronze wing coverings (elytra). Twelve white hair tufts are arranged along the outside edge of the back-half of the abdomen. Larvae are less than 25 millimetres (1 inch) at maturity and are a typical C-shaped white grub with a yellowish-brown head.

For more information see Canadian Food InspectionAgency (CFIA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) websites.

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.

Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) larva
CC-BY-NC 3.0 – Jim Baker, North Carolina University
Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) larval damage in turf
CC-BY-NC 3.0 – MG Kelin, USDA-ARS

Insect of the Week – Spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii Mats.)

(This week’s post is provided by Dr. James Tansey, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Provincial Specialist, Insect/Vertebrate Pest Management)

With the onset of the 2019 growing season, we decided to feature an insect that is becoming a growing problem throughout Canada: Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii.

Figure 1: Spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) adults on raspberry fruit Hannah Burrack, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org

This invasive insect is thought to have originated in southeast Asia. The first record of SWD is from Japan in 1916. SWD is now established in small and stone fruit production areas throughout North America. SWD has been reported in British Columbia since 2009, and was first reported in Alberta in 2010. Although it has not yet been found in Saskatchewan, occurrence in Alberta and low levels in southern Manitoba suggest that SK infestations are likely imminent. Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture will be monitoring for this pest this summer (2019).

SWD is an economic pest of many soft fruits including raspberry, strawberry, cherry, blueberry and plum (Figure 1). Saskatoon berry has been documented as a host. Haskap is also considered susceptible but may escape major damage as SWD populations typically do not increase until after harvest. However, Ontario haskap growers have seen economic losses when a mild winter is coupled with factors that lead to delayed ripening.

SWD adults are 3-4 mm, yellow-brown with red eyes. Males have a conspicuous spot on the leading edge of each wing (Figure 2). Females lack the spots but have a characteristic large, serrated ovipositor (Figure 3).

Figure 2: Spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) adult male
cc by 2.0 – Martin Cooper
Figure 3: Spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) adult female
cc by 2.0 – Martin Cooper

SWD overwinter as adults. These become active in the spring, mate and seek egg-laying sites. Female SWD lay as many as 16 eggs per day for up to two months, averaging 384 eggs each. Female SWD deposit eggs with their serrated ovipositor under the skin of healthy, ripening fruit. Oviposition sites look like pin-holes in the skin (Figure 4). These can also serve as avenues of entry to pathogens like brown rot and botrytis. Several larvae can occur per fruit (Figure 5). Larval feeding causes fruit to become prematurely soft and unmarketable. Larvae mature in 3-13 days and pupate most commonly in the fruit. The pupal stage lasts another 3-15 days. Multiple generations per year are common.

Figure 4: Ovipositor scars in cherry fruit from Spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii
cc by 3.0 – Martin Hauser Phycus
Figure 5: Spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) larva
Hannah Burrack, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org

Although SWD adults can be moved around by winds, movement of contaminated plant material is the major route for dispersal. Current management includes culling and destruction of soft fruit and the application of insecticides to established populations. Products registered to control SWD can be on Health Canada’s pesticide label search site (http://pr-rp.hc-sc.gc.ca/ls-re/index-eng.php). Use the search terms ‘spotted wing drosophila’. Product updates occur periodically so check this site regularly.

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 – 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 – Brown marmorated stink bug

This week’s Insect of the Week is the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys). Stink bugs get their name from the foul odour they release when threatened. Brown marmorated stink bug is not known to be established in the Prairies, but the species has been found in the Southern Interior of BC, in Ontario and Quebec. Feeding causes damage to seeds and seed pods, reducing yield. Nymphs and adults prefer field corn and soybean, but infestations have been reported on rape, pea, sunflower and cereals in the USA. They have also been known to attack tree fruits, berries, vegetables and many ornamental trees and shrubs.

Brown marmorated stink bug – adult (CC-BY 2.0 Katja Schulz)

Additional information and fact sheets for this insect have been posted by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development, and BC Ministry of Agriculture and Seafood. You can also check out our Insect of the Week page.

This insect is featured in our Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies Field Guide which is available for download from the Insect Field Guide page. 

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

Insect of the Week – Twospotted spider mite (Acarina: Tetranychus)

This week’s Insect of the Week is the twospotted spider mite. This tiny mite is 0.5 mm long and has eight legs. It has a greenish, yellowish to orange oval body with two dark spots on its abdomen. To the unaided eye, it looks like a small speck. they feed on corn, soybean, dry beans, alfalfa, vegetables and fruit.

These mites overwinter in protected sites as eggs, immatures or adults depending on food hosts and habitat. Immatures and adults move to emerging plant hosts in the spring. They create webbing on the underside of leaves where they puncture cells to feed on cell contents. This feeding causes stippling, yellowing or browning of the leaves. Leaves may dry and drop which can further reduce crop yields.

Infestations start at the field edge and move inwards. Extended hot, dry conditions favour rapid population build up and exacerbate feeding injury.

For more information on the twospotted spider mite, check out our Insect of the Week page!

Twospotted spider mite – adult closeup
David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org
Twospotted spider mite – stippling damage on bean
Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

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)

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)

Insect of the Week – Wheat stem sawfly (Cephus cinctus, Hymenoptera: Cephidae)

This week’s Insect of the Week is the wheat stem sawfly (Cephus cinctus). Adults are 8-13mm long and have a shiny, black, wasp-like body and yellow legs. When at rest on plant stems, they point their heads downwards.

Mature larvae overwinter in the base of stems in infested fields. In June, females emerge and fly to nearby wheat crops, where they can lay up to 50 eggs each on stems.

The wheat stem sawfly feeds primarily on spring and durum wheat, though winter wheat, rye, grain corn, barley, and some native grasses can support sawfly development. It cannot develop on oats.

Larvae feed on the pith of host plants stems which can cause a reduction in crop yield and quality. When plants mature, larvae move to the bottom of the stem to overwinter.

For more information about the wheat stem sawfly, head over to our Insect of the Week page!

Wheat stem sawfly – adult
(Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development)
Wheat stem sawfly – egg, larva, adult, damage
(Art Cushman, USDA Systematics Entomology Laboratory, Bugwood.org)

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 – The new canola flower midge (Contarinia brassicola, Diptera: Cecidomyiidae)

This week’s Insect of the week is a new find on the prairies, tentatively called the canola flower midge, Contarinia brassicola (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae). The canola flower midge has been found throughout central Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Swan River Valley in Manitoba. The female lays eggs on developing canola flower buds. Upon hatching, the larvae feed within the developing flower and cause the formation of a “pop-bottle”-shaped gall. To date, this is the only damage associated with the midge, and it has been minimal across the prairies.

Adult canola flower midges appear similar to swede midge (Contarinia nasturtii). They are tiny, delicate flies, 2-5 mm in size. They can be differentiated from swede midge based on the appearance of the female antennae, the damage symptoms they produce and genetically.

Many thanks to Scott Meers and Shelley Barkley (Alberta Agriculture and Forestry) for organizing the Alberta surveys for the canola flower midge.  

Submitted by Dr. Boyd Mori and Dr. Meghan Vankosky

Find out more about the insect pests that plague your crops and the natural enemies that keep them in check at the Insect of the Week page!

“Pop-bottle”-shaped galls created by the canola flower midge.
(c) 2016 Boyd Mori, AAFC

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.

Insect of the Week – Pea aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae)

This week’s insect of the week is the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum). This long-legged, pear-shaped aphid is 3-4 mm long, light to dark green and each antennal segment is tipped by a black band. It feeds on field peas, alfalfa, broad beans, chickpeas, clover and lentils. Feeding damage can reduce yields due to lower seed formation and seed size. Leaves may turn yellow and overall plant growth can be delayed.

Pea aphids overwinter as eggs on the leaves and stems of perennial legumes (eg. clover or alfalfa crowns). They produce 2-3 generations asexually before winged females migrate to summer host crops where several more generations are produced. Winged sexual forms develop in late summer that mate and females return to winter host crops to lay eggs.

For more information about pea aphids, see our Insect of the Week page!

Pea aphid adult (L) and nymph (R)
©Mike Dolinski, MikeDolinski@hotmail.com

Insect of the Week – Bruner grasshopper (Orthoptera: Acrididae)

The insect of the week is the Bruner grasshopper (Melanoplus bruneri).  Observed since the 1920s in Canada, this species is a relatively recent addition to the list of grasshopper pest species occurring in crop production areas. Previously, it was not considered a crop pest.

It is a medium-sized grasshopper (males 18-22 mm; females 22-27 mm) with dark and often reddish colour tones. It is similar in appearance and size to the migratory grasshopper (Melanoplus sanguinipes) but is distinguished by differences in the male genitalia. The Bruner grasshopper has recently become the predominant grasshopper species in many northern crop production areas of Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan. It occupies a wide geographic range and is found throughout much of Canada and the United States.

The Bruner grasshopper feeds mainly on broadleaf host plants but the species can feed upon several species of grasses. It has been observed in high numbers feeding in pulse crops, canola, and cereals.

Researchers are investigating if this species follows a two-year life cycle (i.e. do eggs require exposure to two winters before hatching?) in the Peace River region and parts of central Alberta.

For more information, see our Insect of the Week page!

Bruner grasshopper (Melanoplus bruneri) adult.
Photo credit: S. Barkley, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

Access these websites for more information related to the Bruner Grasshopper:

Access more information related to grasshoppers here.

Insect of the Week – Red turnip beetle (Entomoscelis americana)

This week’s Insect of the week is the red turnip beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). This beetle is 7-10 millimeters long and has a distinctive red body with black markings on the head and thorax, and three black stripes down its back (elytra). They feed on mustards, canola, cole crops, and cruciferous weeds (except stinkweed).

They overwinter as reddish brown oval eggs in the soil. Adults emerge in the spring to feed for 2-3 weeks before re-entering the soil to escape the summer heat. When they re-emerge, they disperse throughout the host crop, feeding, mating, and laying eggs (300-400/female). Feeding damage can cause delayed harvest or need for re-seeding to replace killed plants. Later in the season they feed on leaves, stems, and pods. Attached pods are prone to premature shelling.

For more information about the red turnip beetle, have a look at our Insect of the Week page!

Red turnip beetle adult and damage
John Gavloski, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

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 – Wireworms

This week’s Insect of the Week is a
frustrating pest of many crops: wireworm. Wireworms are the soil-dwelling
larval stage of the click beetles (Elateridae). There are hundreds of click
beetle species in the prairies, but the term wireworm refers to those that are pests,
which in Canada is approximately 20 species. 
With the loss of effective insecticides (e.g. lindane), wireworms have
re-emerged in recent years as primary pests of potato, cereals, and vegetables.
On the prairies, we have 3 predominant pest species (Selatosomus destructor, Limonius
californicus
, and Hypnoidus bicolor;
see photo), and their larvae vary (among other things) in life history (2-7
years), color (white to orange), cuticle thickness, distribution, behaviour, and
susceptibility to insecticides.

Wireworms are patchy in distribution, difficult
to monitor, and difficult to kill. We have a lot to learn about these resilient
pests. Since the mid-1990’s AAFC has had a national research team (Bob Vernon
et al.) screening for effective insecticides and developing trapping and monitoring
methods, cultural controls (e.g., crop rotation), and biocontrols to manage the
adult and larval forms of these pests.

For more information about wireworms, check out our Insect of the Week page!

The three most troublesome wireworm species on the prairies in their adult
and larval stages. Note the different sizes and colours. From left to right,
S. destructor, L. californicus, H. bicolor.
Photo by David Shack, AAFC-Lethbridge.
For more information, please contact Dr. Haley Catton (AAFC-Lethbridge) or Dr. Wim van Herk (AAFC-Agassiz)

Also link here to access a summary of Wireworm surveying (2004-2017) conducted across the Canadian prairies by van Herk and Vernon (AAFC-Agassiz).

Insect of the Week – Flea Beetles

This week’s Insect of the Week is the Flea Beetle (Phyllotreta species). This group of beetles is typically oval and 2-3 mm long.  In canola, the most common flea beetles are either bluish black (crucifer flea beetle or Phyllotreta cruciferae) or black with two wavy yellow lines running down the length of its back (striped flea beetle or Phyllotreta striolata). They overwinter as adults under plant material along field margins and females lay eggs in the soil near the host plants. 

Striped and crucifer flea beetles feed on canola, mustard and related cruciferous plants and weeds. Their damage results in a shot-hole appearance in cotyledon leaves. They also feed on stems under windy or damp conditions, causing wilting or breakage. Remember, the Action Threshold for flea beetles on canola is when 25% of cotyledon leaf area is consumed



For more information on flea beetles, refer to the Insect of the Week page!

Crucifer flea beetle and damage
Photo: AAFC
Flea beetle damage on cotyledon
Photo: Mike Dolinski, MikeDolinski@hotmail.com

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 – Darksided cutworm

It’s spring, so it’s cutworm season. This week’s insect is the darksided cutworm. Mature larvae are hairless, greyish with a prominent white stripe on either side just above their legs. It is a climbing cutworm with feeding occurring at night. They have a broad host range including cereals, canola, corn, flax, sunflower, vegetables berry and tree fruits.

Find out more about the darksided cutworm at the Insect of the Week page.  Other important species include dingy, army, redbacked and pale western cutworms (See Insect of the Week: 2017 – May 1, 8, 15 and 29).

Darksided cutworm
Photocredit John Gavloski, Manitoba Ministry of Agriculture

In addition, Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies – Identification and Management Field Guide was recently published (2017). This new handy manual has chapters on general biology, history of outbreaks, scouting techniques, natural enemies and general control options. The meat of the manual is descriptions of 24 cutworm species, their lifecycle, hosts, damage, monitoring and economic thresholds. To download a copy, go to the Cutworm Field Guide page.

Insect of the Week – Glassy cutworm

This week’s insect is the glassy cutworm. The larva is greyish-white, semi-translucent and shiny (i.e. glass-like) with a orange-brown head. Since it overwinters as a larva, it is active as soon as the ground thaws. It feeds underground and rarely come to the surface. Their main host crop are grasses but will also attack wheat and corn. Corn planted following wheat may be particularly at risk.

Find out more about the glassy cutworm at the Insect of the Week page.

Glassy cutworm
cc-by Joseph Berger, bugwood.org

Other important species include dingy, army, redbacked and pale western cutworms (See Insect of the Week: 2017 – May 1, 8, 15 and 29).

In addition, Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies – Identification and Management Field Guide was just published (2017). This new handy field guide has chapters on general biology, history of outbreaks, scouting techniques, natural enemies and general control options. The guide includes descriptions of 24 cutworm species, their lifecycle, hosts, damage, monitoring and economic thresholds. To download a copy, go to the Cutworm Field Guide page.

Insect of the Week – Brown marmorated stink bug

This week’s Insect of the Week is the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys). Stink bugs get their name from the foul odour they release when threatened. Nymphs and adults prefer field corn and soybean, but infestations have been reported on rape, pea, sunflower and cereals in the USA. They have also been known to attack tree fruits, berries, vegetables and many ornamental trees and shrubs. They are not known to be established in the Prairies, but have been found in the BC Southern Interior, Ontario and Quebec. Feeding causes damage to seeds and seed pods, reducing yield.

Brown marmorated stink bug – adult (CC-BY 2.0 Katja Schulz)

Additional information and fact sheets for this insect have been posted by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development, and BC Ministry of Agriculture and Seafood.

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

Insect of the Week – Bronzed blossom pollen beetle

This week’s Insect of the Week is the bronzed blossom pollen beetle. They feed on canola and oilseed rape, mustards, bittercress, rockcress, wild radish and dogmustard. They are not known to be established in Western Canada, but are present in Nova Scotia, PEI and Quebec. Adult females lay clusters of 2 to 3 eggs in developing buds and can lay up to 250 eggs in one summer. Once the eggs hatch, larva enter developing flower buds to feed. This feeding can reduce seed production by up to 70%!

For more information on the bronzed blossom pollen beetle, see our Insect of the Week page.

Bronzed blossom pollen beetle – adults (C. Noronha, AAFC)
Bronzed blossom pollen beetle – eggs (C. Noronha, AAFC)



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

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Insect of the Week – Red clover casebearer moth

This week’s Insect of the Week is the red clover casebearer moth. As it’s name suggests, its primary host is red clover, but larvae also reportedly feed on alsike, stone, white and zig-zag clover. The mature larvae are contained within portable cases made of withered flower petals and silk and they feed from the front end of the case on developing seed in the floret. They can consume up to three seeds per day. In areas with high numbers of these moths, such as the Peace River region in BC and AB, red clover stands should only be grown for one year in rotation.

For more information on the red clover casebearer moth, visit our Insect of the Week page.

Red clover case bearer moth – adult (Tim Haye)
Red clover casebearer moth – sealed overwintering larval cases (Boyd Mori)



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

Insect of the Week – Soybean aphid

This week’s Insect of the Week is the soybean aphid. This pest overwinters in the US and is blown into Canada, where winged females migrate to soybeans and produce several generations over the summer.

In 2016, 2.5 million acres of soybeans were planted in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. This amount is expected to rise in coming years. Thus, it is important to know how to scout for and manage soybean aphids.

For more information on soybean aphids, visit our Insect of the Week page.

Soybean aphid – adult (Robert J. O’Neil, Purdue University (wiki))



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

BONUS Insect of the Week – Wheat stem maggot

The Wheat Stem Maggot, Meromyza americana (Diptera) is minor pest that causes eye-catching damage in wheat, rye, barley, oat, millet, timothy, brome, crested wheatgrass and bluegrass. This is a timely insect of the week, because the larval damage (dead white heads in an otherwise green field) started to appear in the last few weeks and is now highly visible in many fields.

Your eyes are naturally drawn to these white heads and can cause you to overestimate the actual amount of damage to your fields. However, the damage is usually limited to 1-5% of the crop. To identify if the wheat stem maggot is the culprit, gently pull on the white head to see if it easily separates from the flag leaf sheath and shows evidence of feeding damage at the base of the culm.

By the time you see damage, the greenish-white larva has exited and is off to begin a second generation that will overwinter in volunteer cereals. There are no registered chemicals or resistant varieties so your best management practices are rotate to non-cereals/non-grassses, destroy infested stubble, and control volunteer hosts and grassy weeds. Delayed seeding, where/when possible may also limit damage.

For more information on the Wheat Stem Maggot, see our Insect of the Week page.

Wheat stem maggot damage (Tyler Wist – AAFC)


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

Insect of the Week – Tetrastichus julis

This week’s Insect of the Week is Tetrastichus julis. They are a parasitoid enemy of the cereal leaf beetle. Mature larvae overwinter in infested cereal leaf beetle cocoons and emerge in spring to lay more eggs in cereal leaf beetle larvae. Adults feed on nectar and aphid honeydew.



For more information on Tetrastichus julis, visit our Insect of the Week page.

Tetrastichus julis – adult parasitizing a cereal leaf beetle larva
(Swaroop Kher, University of Alberta/AAFC)




Follow @FieldHeroes to find out how natural enemies 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 – Cereal leaf beetle

This week’s Insect of the Week is the cereal leaf beetle. Wheat is their preferred host, but they also feed on oats, barley, corn, rye, triticale, reed canarygrass, ryegrass, fescue, wild oats, millet and other grasses. Adults and larvae feed on the leaf tissue of host plants. Yield quality and quantity is decreased if the flag leaf is stripped. It is also interesting to note that larvae carry all of their own fecal waste with them as protection from predators.


For more information on the cereal leaf beetle, see our Insect of the Week page.



Cereal leaf beetle larva (cc-by 2.0 Christophe Quintin)




Cereal leaf beetle damage (cc-by-nc-sa 2.0 CIMMYT)



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

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 – Cereal aphids

This week’s Insect of the Week is the group of aphids known
as cereal aphids. These aphids include the corn leaf aphid, the English grain
aphid, the oat-birdcherry aphid and the Russian wheat aphid. They feed on
cereal crops and are vectors of viruses, causing lower crop quality and yield. There are several natural enemies of cereal aphids, including various species of wasps and beetles. 

For more information on cereal aphids, see our Insect of the Week page. 

English grain aphid – adult, nymph (Tyler Wist, AAFC)



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!

Insect of the Week – Wheat midge

This week’s Insect of the Week is the wheat midge. Larvae feed on the surface of developing wheat kernels in spring and winter wheat, durum wheat, triticale and occasionally spring rye. Damage includes aborted, shrivelled, misshapen, cracked, or scared kernels. This lowers grain yield, quality and grade.

For more information on the wheat midge, visit our Insect of the Week page.

Wheat midge – larva (Mike Dolinski, MikeDolinski@hotmail.com

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

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!

Insect of the Week – Pea leaf weevil

This week’s “Insect of the Week” is the Pea Leaf Weevil. Larval hosts are field peas and faba beans. Adults can spread to other cultivated and wild legumes, such as alfalfa, beans and lentils. Each adult female lays up to 300 eggs in one summer! The eggs hatch in the soil near developing plants and larvae move to feed on nitrogen-fixing nodules. This results in partial or complete inhibition of nitrogen fixation by the plant, causing poor plant growth. Adults feed on leaves and growing points of seedlings, causing notches in leaf margins.

Adult, larval and egg stages overlap and all three can be present over most of the growing season. For more information about Pea Leaf Weevil risk in your area, see the 2017 Insect Risk Maps page. Also, we have posted a NEW Pea Leaf Weevil monitoring protocol.

For more information on the pea leaf weevil, see the Insect of the Week page.

Pea leaf weevil – adult, eggs (Mike Dolinski, MikeDolinsky@hotmail.com)

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

Insect of the Week – Dingy cutworm

For many, seed isn’t even in the ground yet, but the cutworms are ready for it when it is. So the time to start scouting for cutworms is now! Even if it is too wet to seed, consider checking volunteer plants for cutworms or feeding damage. General cutworm monitoring protocols can be found on the Monitoring Protocols page. Species-specific protocols can be found in the new Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies (see below for download details).


There are over 20 cutworm species that may cause economic damage to your crop, each with different feeding behaviour, preferred hosts and lifecycle. This is why species identification is so important: it helps growers understand what they are up against: determining how and when to scout, knowing whether the cutworm species is found above-ground (climbing) or below-ground, recognizing damage, choosing control options. Species also impacts the most appropriate time of day for monitoring and applying controls.


Action and economic thresholds do exist for many of the cutworm species – please use them. This will help control costs by eliminating unnecessary/un-economic sprays and reduce your impact on non-target insects – insects that include cutworm natural enemies that work in the background to control cutworm populations.


This week’s Insect of the Week is the dingy cutworm. This is an above ground climbing species. Crops are at greatest risk in the spring when partially mature larvae emerge to feed primarily on leaves. The name ‘dingy cutworm’ is generally applied to three closely related species with similar appearance and life cycles.


For more information about dingy cutworms, go to the Insect of Week page.

Dingy cutworm larva (cc John Gavioski, Manitoba Agriculture)


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

Insect of the Week – Army cutworm

For many, seed isn’t even in the ground yet, but the cutworms are ready for it when it is. So the time to start scouting for cutworms is now! Even if it is too wet to seed, consider checking volunteer plants for cutworms or feeding damage. General cutworm monitoring protocols can be found on the Monitoring Protocols page. Species-specific protocols can be found in the new Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies (see below for download details).


There are over 20 cutworm species that may cause economic damage to your crop, each with different feeding behaviour, preferred hosts and lifecycle. This is why species identification is so important: it helps growers understand what they are up against: determining how and when to scout, knowing whether the cutworm species is found above-ground (climbing) or below-ground, recognizing damage, choosing control options. Species also impacts the most appropriate time of day for monitoring and applying controls.


Action and economic thresholds do exist for many of the cutworm species – please use them. This will help control costs by eliminating unnecessary/un-economic sprays and reduce your impact on non-target insects – insects that include cutworm natural enemies that work in the background to control cutworm populations.


This week’s Insect of the Week is the army cutworm. This is an above ground species. Young larvae chew holes in leaves and notch leaf margins. Older larvae will consume entire leaves. They get their name from the fact that when food is scarce, larvae move as a large group in the same direction to locate more host plants.


For more information about army cutworms, go to the Insect of Week page.

Army cutworm larva (cc-by 3.0 Whitney Cranshaw, bugwood.org)

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

Insect of the Week – Redbacked cutworm

For many, seed isn’t even in the ground yet, but the cutworms are ready for it when it is. So the time to start scouting for cutworms is now! Even if it is too wet to seed, consider checking volunteer plants for cutworms or feeding damage. General cutworm monitoring protocols can be found on the Monitoring Protocols page. Species-specific protocols can be found in the new Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies (see below for download details).

There are over 20 cutworm species that may cause economic damage to your crop, each with different feeding behaviour, preferred hosts and lifecycle. This is why species identification is so important: it helps growers understand what they are up against: determining how and when to scout, knowing whether the cutworm species is found above-ground (climbing) or below-ground, recognizing damage, choosing control options. Species also impacts the most appropriate time of day for monitoring and applying controls.

Action and economic thresholds do exist for many of the cutworm species – please use them. This will help control costs by eliminating unnecessary/un-economic sprays and reduce your impact on non-target insects – insects that include cutworm natural enemies that work in the background to control cutworm populations.

This week’s Insect of the Week is the redbacked cutworm. This is an above ground species. Young larvae feed on newly-emerging shoots and furled leaves, creating small holes. Older larvae cut off leaves and sever plants just below the soil surface. Occasionally, the larvae pull the plants underground to feed on them.

For more information about Redbacked Cutworms, go to the Insect of Week page.

Redbacked cutworms – John Gavloski, Manitoba Agriculture

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

Insect of the Week – Pale western cutworm

For many, seed isn’t even in the ground yet, but the cutworms are ready for it when it is. So the time to start scouting for cutworms is now! Even if it is too wet to seed, consider checking volunteer plants for cutworms or feeding damage. General cutworm monitoring protocols can be found on the Monitoring Protocols page. Species-specific protocols can be found in the new Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies (see below for download details).

There are over 20 cutworm species that may cause economic damage to your crop, each with different feeding behaviour, preferred hosts and lifecycle. This is why species identification is so important: it helps growers understand what they are up against: determining how and when to scout, knowing whether the cutworm species is found above-ground (climbing) or below-ground, recognizing damage, choosing control options. Species also impacts the most appropriate time of day for monitoring and applying controls.

Action and economic thresholds do exist for many of the cutworm species – please use them. This will help control costs by eliminating unnecessary/un-economic sprays and reduce your impact on non-target insects – insects that include cutworm natural enemies that work in the background to control cutworm populations.

This week’s Insect of the Week is the Pale Western Cutworm. This is a below-ground feeder. Larvae hatch in late April/early May. As they feed on/tunnel through shoots as they pass through the soil, young larvae produce holes on newly-emerged shoots and furled leaves . Older larvae will sever plants just below the soil surface and may pull and eat the severed shoots underground.

For more information about Pale Western Cutworm, go to the Insect of Week page.

Pale western cutwom. cc-by-nc 3.0 Frank Peairs,
Colorado State University, bugwood.org

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

Insect of the Week – Predatory mites

Predatory mites

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 feature natural enemies are predatory mites. These are not insects but instead belong to the Arachnid or spider class of arthropods. My known encounters with mites have been of the pest type (e.g. two-spotted spider mite), spinning their webs and literally sucking the life out of their host plants and transmitting viruses. But this group, the predatory mites get their meal instead from insect eggs, all stages of pest mites, thrips, young aphids and leafhoppers. They may be small, but they are ‘mity’.
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).

Adult whirligig mite,
Aleksander Balodis (AfroBrazillian), Wikimedia Commons
Adult red velvet mite,
Jorg Hempel, Wikimedia Commons

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.

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 – Corn earworm

This week’s Insect of the Week is the corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea), an annual migrant from Mexico and southern USA. According to Wikipedia, the corn earworm is the second most important economic insect pest in North America. See information from the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and control options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page). 


Jack Dykinga, USDA-Agricultural Research Service


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

Insect of the Week – Beet webworm

This week’s Insect of the Week is the beet webworm (Loxostege sticticalis (Linnaeus)) (from the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide – download links available on the Insect of the Week page). 

(c) AAFC-AAC

Insect of the Week – Red turnip beetle

This week’s Insect of the Week is the red turnip beetle (Entomoscelis americana Brown) (from the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide – download links available on the Insect of the Week page). 

Insect of the Week – Alfalfa looper

This week’s Insect of the Week is the alfalfa looper (Autographa californica Speyer) (from the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide – download links available on the Insect of the Week page). 

Insect of the Week – Bertha armyworm

This week’s Insect of the Week is the Bertha armyworm (Mamestra configurata (Walker)) (from the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada – Identification and Management Field Guide – download links available on the Insect of the Week page).