Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Prairie Pest Monitoring Network 2017 Risk and Forecast Maps

The Prairie Pest Monitoring Network has posted the 2017 Risk and Forecast Maps for insect pests monitored throughout the Canadian prairies.  Link here to access the Post and to view the downloadable maps.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

European skipper information

European skipper (Lepidoptera: Thymelicus lineola) was introduced to North America several decades ago and has been moving west and north in its distribution.  Specimens confirmed as T. lineola were collected in 2016 near Valleyview, Donnelly and High Prairie (2017 Otani and Schmidt, pers. comm.).

There is one generation per year and the five larval instar stages cause damage associated with defoliation of the upper leaves of timothy.  In 2015, European skipper larvae were observed feeding in the flag leaves of winter wheat near Mayerthorpe (2015 Meers, pers. comm.).  

A pdf copy of the European skipper pages has been extracted from the 2009 Alberta Forage Manual for printing and a screenshot is included below so growers and agrologists can familiarize themselves with the larval stage, the damage to the upper leaves of timothy (which can resemble grasshopper damage), and the larva's habit of tying the sides of a leaf together.

You can link to Insects of Alberta where R. Bercha has posted a wonderful photo of an adult!

Cereal leaf beetle information

Information related to Cereal leaf beetle (Coleoptera: Oulema melanopus) has been posted below so growers and agrologists can print or view during the 2017 growing season.  
Cereal leaf beetle overwinters as an adult and the larval stages can cause economic losses owing to feeding damage on the leaves of cereals although the species has a broad host plant range (i.e., includes oats, wheat, barley, rye, corn but also wild oats, quackgrass, timothy, canary grass, reed canary grass, annual and perennial ryegrass, foxtail, orchard grass, wild rye, smooth brome and fescues).  There is one generation per year.

Extensive Cereal leaf beetle information for the Canadian prairies is posted and updated on the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network's Blog (click to link to an example including biology and monitoring tips).

Fact sheets for cereal leaf beetle are published by the province of Alberta and available from the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network. Also access the Oulema melanopus page from the new "Field crop and forage pests and their natural enemies in western Canada - Identification and management field guide".  A screen shot of the page is below for reference.

Cereal leaf beetle is attacked by an effective biological control agent, Tetrastichus julis, which is a small wasp that selectively seeks out and parasitizes the larval stages of its host.  Dr. Hector Carcamo (AAFC-Lethbridge) recently prepared a description of T. julis and its impact on cereal leaf beetle in Canada.  A screen shot is below for reference or hyperlink to the document.

During the growing season, be sure to check out the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network's Blog for the Weekly Updates.  Bioclimatic modelling is used, together with current environmental data from across the prairies, to predict the occurrence of the various developmental stages of Cereal leaf beetle larvae to aid scouting efforts.  Because the weather changes, the bioclimatic model outputs are updated weekly through the growing season and particularly in the spring.  Additionally, bioclimatic modelling is used to help predict when the biological control agent, T. julis, will be active and to help predict its development within its host (cereal leaf beetle larvae) through the growing season. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Large subterranean larvae in field crops

This week a query came in for large, thick-bodied white larvae found just below the soil surface that were clipping grass plants below the soil surface. An insect specimen will always help a trained entomologist identify a pest species with the greatest accuracy.  However, in the absence of a specimen, here's a short list of potential insects that might fit the above description and will hopefully aid scouting efforts in the spring:

1. June beetle larvae - These are large juvenile stages of the June beetle and they are herbivorous.  They are occasional pests but difficult to manage using foliar-applied broad spectrum insecticides since the larvae remain below the soil surface when feeding.  When scouting, be on the lookout for the creamy-white body colour, their larger size, the presence of a well-defined tan head capsule, and three pairs of legs on the anterior end.  Below is a screen shot extracted from the Insect Pest chapter prepared by Soroka & Otani in the Alberta Forage Manual below but download the entire manual here.

2.  Small Scarab Beetle Larvae - These are also juvenile stages of another beetle species and these whitish to creamy yellow coloured larvae will feed on a broad range of host plants.  Dr. Kevin Floate at AAFC-Lethbridge is currently taking specimens of larvae to help assess whether or not this species is an economic pest versus an occasional issue.  Link here to access Dr. Floate's fact sheet on the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network's Blog and note the similarities to the June Beetle larvae but know that the larva of the Small Scarab Beetle is "smaller".

3.  Cutworms - Several species of cutworms will occur in all of Alberta's field crops and careful scouting is needed early in the Spring (mid-April to mid-June).  Several species of cutworms are climbing cutworms and they are easiest to find in the evening or early in the morning since they feed above-ground on foliage.  Cutworms in grasses grown for hay or seed will be both climbing and subeteranean so pay attention when scouting since digging is often required in order to find the culprit.  Link here to read over an earlier post on cutworms on the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network's Blog and to access fact sheets for the various species.

Remember, the above list is NOT complete.  Specimens should be examined to help identify the species and to ensure scouting and control options are applied appropriately  - after all, cutworm scouting and control strategies don't necessarily help if June Beetle larvae are in the field!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Natural enemy of Cabbage Root Maggots - Aleochora bilineata (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae)

Beneficial arthropods are present in all field crops.  On the Canadian prairies, several insect pests cause economic levels of damage but natural enemies play an important role in the regulation of all species.  Diseases, parasites, parasitoids, and predators are all examples of natural enemies that will attack and regulate insect pest pests.  Read on to learn more about these organisms and the importance of preserving them in field crop situations!

Cabbage root maggots are a multivoltine complex of up to three species including Delia planipalpis, D. radicum, D. floralis (Diptera: Anthomyiidae).  The cabbage root maggot overwinters within a puparium and emerges in the spring.  Data has shown that continuous cropping of canola on canola contributes to high populations of root maggot so crop rotation is the greatest tool to manage this insect pest whose larval stage feeds upon the canola root.  The beneficial organism that attacks both the egg and pupal stages of the cabbage root maggot is Aleochora bilineata, a small staphylinid beetle which is both predator and parasitoid!  Aleochora bilineata adults hunt and eat Delia spp. eggs but this beneficial organism also parasitizes Delia puparia so, instead of the fly emerging from the root maggot puparium, a beetle emerges - check it out below!

More information is available below from the new Insect Guide:

Also look up this scientific publication to learn more about Aleochora bilineata in canola production systems in Canada: Broatch J.S., Dosdall L.M., Yang R.C., Harker K.N., Clayton G.W.  2008. Emergence and seasonal activity of the entomophagous rove beetle Aleochara bilineata (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) in canola in Western Canada. Environ Entomol. 37(6):1451-60.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

This Week at the Farm - Good luck to all our IPM Students! (August 31, 2016)

This week the IPM Program bid farewell to all our summer students.  Wheat and canola still ripens in the field but our students are heading back to complete their degrees!  

We wish our students good luck with their Fall studies and thank them again for their many contributions!

2016 IPM Program's Staff included (L to R) Amanda, Shelby, Jadin, Kaitlin, Celine, Emily, Hannah and Laura.

Friday, 12 August 2016

This Week At the Farm - Red Clover Casebearer Monitoring

By Laura
The red clover casebearer (Fig. 1) is a small, metallic green moth belonging to the Family Coleophoridae.  The larval stage of the red clover casebearer (Coleophora deauratella) feeds on the contents of clover florettes and eventually the developing seed.  Three species of Coleophora have established in Canada; C. deauratella utilizes red and alsike clover, C. mayrella utilizes red and alsike clover, and C. trifolii utilizes sweet clover. All three species create cases from the floral or seed pod structures of the host plant they utilize.  The larval stage constructs the “case” from its host plant which is worn and carried much like a snail in its shell, hence the common name of “casebearer”.  In the fall, the red clover casebearer moves from floral structures it feeds upon to the ground, carrying its case.  When conditions prompt overwintering, the red clover casebearer retreats within its case and seals the opening with silk.  In the spring, the red clover casebearer can emerge and move in order to find suitable spring conditions.  The larva then pupates within its case and is observed to begin to fly by mid-June in the Peace River region, typically flying over a 6-8 week period.  The metallic, green micro-leps seek their host plant, feeding upon nectar and they lay their eggs on the host plant.  
Figure 1. Red clover casebearer (Coleophora deauratella) larva and adult. The larva creates a case which it wears until it becomes an adult. Image sources:

The IPM lab monitors red clover casebearers throughout the Peace Region. Pheromone traps and sweep-net collections help us monitor the moth flight period, the presence of mature larvae and densities in commercial fields of clovers.  The pheromone traps consist of a commercially available green unitrap, a pheromone lure (Otani, Mori, Evenden) as bait for the males and enclose a Vapona strip to kill and retain the specimens for later identification and counting (Fig. 2).
Figure 2. Green unitraps mounted singly on posts at the edge of a field are used for pheromone trap monitoring of male clover casebearer moths.
In the span of one week some traps can catch over 1000 casebearers! The casebearers are retrieved then later counted by summer students (Fig. 3) who wear gloves and dust masks to protect against the insecticidal vapona strip and inhalation of the tiny scales of the moths which coat the inside of the traps like dust.
Figure 3. Summer students count and record the number of casebearers collected from each pheromone trap. This trap had 1793 casebearer moths.

For more information on red clover casebearers in the Peace River region, visit$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/prm4587