Friday, 7 April 2017

2017 Risk and Forecast Maps for the Prairies

The 2017 Prairie-Wide Risk and Forecast Maps can be viewed and downloaded here. Maps are generated for bertha armyworm, grasshoppers, wheat midge, cabbage seedpod weevil, pea leaf weevil, wheat stem sawfly, diamondback moth as well as average temperature, average precipitation, and modeled soil moisture for the Canadian prairies.

Thank you to the many people who monitor each growing season!  An astonishing 6414 survey stops were involved in the insect monitoring performed across the Canadian prairies in 2016!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Manitoba insect survey and forecast maps - J. Gavloski

Manitoba posts their 2016 Insect Survey and 2017 Forecast Maps up on their website! Take a moment to look over the following forecasts:

Manitoba growers can access general information on pest and beneficial insects from a series of fact sheets posted at the Insect section of their website.

More information related to the above maps and insects can be obtained by contacting Manitoba Agriculture entomologist John Gavloski.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Saskatchewan Insect Survey and Forecast Maps are available on - Hartley, Stephens

All the Saskatchewan Insect Survey and Forecast Maps and more can be found on ! To view all our agriculture maps check out our Maps for Farmers and Agribusiness section.

The Saskatchewan 2016 Bertha Armyworm moth accumulation map is posted.
The Saskatchewan 2016 Cabbage Seedpod Weevil Survey Map is posted.
Saskatchewan's 2016 Pea Leaf weevil Survey Map can be viewed.
The Saskatchewan 2017 Grasshopper Forecast Map is posted now.
Also, the Saskatchewan 2017 Wheat Midge Forecast Map is posted now.

Saskatchewan growers can access general Insect pest information located under our Crop Protection section.

More information related to the above maps and insects can be obtained by contacting Saskatchewan Agriculture's Scott Hartley or Danielle Stephens.

Monday, 6 February 2017

New insect species found in canola flowers in Saskatchewan and Alberta - Mori, Vankosky

Researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Saskatoon Research and Development Centre (SRDC), along with colleagues at the University of Guelph, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found a new insect damaging canola in northeastern Saskatchewan and east-central Alberta. The new species, a midge, which has yet to be named and scientifically described, belongs to the genus Contarinia. It is similar in appearance to the swede midge, Contarinia nasturtii, commonly found in Ontario.

Currently, the only confirmed symptom of damage by this insect are “bottle”-shaped galled flowers that form as a result of larval feeding inside flowers. Damaged flowers do not produce pods or seeds.

How the new species was confirmed
For years there have been accounts of differences between swede midge populations in Saskatchewan and Ontario, including adult size, the number of generations per year, and the type and amount of damage reported. These hints, combined with extremely low capture rates of adult swede midge in pheromone-baited traps in Saskatchewan despite apparently high rates of adult swede midge emergence caught the attention of Dr. Boyd Mori, a trained chemical ecologist and new research scientist at the SRDC.

Dr. Mori collected adult midges from soil emergence cages and reared larvae found in infested flowers. The resulting adult midges were sent to preeminent North American swede midge researchers at the University of Guelph, Dr. Rebecca Hallett and James Heal who immediately noticed differences between the midge from Saskatchewan and swede midges from Ontario: midges from Saskatchewan were more robust, had hairier wings and had slight differences in the antennae and genitalia compared to the swede midge.

These differences were confirmed by midge expert Dr. Bradley Sinclair with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Ottawa who also found several other physical differences. Using morphological differences, and DNA sequencing, the researchers concluded that the Saskatchewan midges were a separate species from the swede midge.

Economic Importance
While midge damage observed in Saskatchewan in 2016 appeared to be low in most fields, the economic impact of the new Contarinia midge is not known. Understanding pests and pest management is a priority of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and work is underway to formally describe and name this new species.

Questions? Contact Dr. Boyd Mori or Dr. Meghan Vankosky

Link here to access a brief bio for Dr. Boyd Mori and Dr. Meghan Vankosky.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Alberta 2017 Forecast and 2016 Risk Maps plus updates to Alberta Agriculture and Forestry web pages - Meers, Barkley

Alberta has posted their forecast and survey maps for several insect pest species occurring in field crops.  Visit their home page to view all the Alberta maps.

The following list and hyperlinks were provided by Shelley Barkley via the Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network.

Scott Meers, entomologist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, was interviewed and spoke about Alberta insect forecasts for 2017.  That series of five interviews can be access with the following hyperlinks:
  1. 2017 Wheat Stem Sawfly and Cabbage Seedpod Weevil Forecasts
  2. 2017 Pea Leaf Weevil Forecast
  3. 2017 Wheat Midge Forecast
  4. 2017 Bertha Armyworm Forecast
  5. Grasshoppers

Additionally, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has updated their webpages with the following:
  1. They have created a graphic that illustrates the "range expansion" of 2 evil weevils in Alberta: pea leaf and cabbage seedpod.
  2. Similar graphics have been added to their bertha armyworm page.  Check out the past "six years of bertha armyworm moth" in Alberta which can be accessed via an hyperlink positioned on their bertha armyworm web page
  3. Their grasshopper page has been updated too - check out the "historic grasshopper maps" for Alberta via a hyperlink located on their grasshopper web page
  4. The past "eight years of sawfly" in Alberta can be accessed via a hyperlink located on their wheat stem sawfly web page.
  5. Remember, if you have access to a large format printer, a poster of the 6 Alberta insect forecast maps is available to print.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

2017 Wheat Midge Forecast Map for Alberta

Each fall, soil core sampling is carried out across the Canadian prairies to assess wheat midge densities and parasitism levels of the overwintering cocoon stage.  Soil collected from wheat fields is collected then the samples are washed to retrieve the tiny cocoons, each measuring only ~2-3mm in diameter (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Wheat midge cocoon sizes (L) compared to canola seed (R).
After washing, each cocoon is carefully dissected under the microscope to determine if a parasitoid larva has attacked the wheat midge larval host.  The densities of the cocoons, and the percent parasitism by the biological control agents (Macroglenes penetrans, Platygaster sp., Euxestonotus error), are compiled and used to generate the geospatial forecast map below.  

The Albertan 2017 wheat midge forecast is posted below (Fig. 2) and you can review previous maps for that province further down the page.  Be sure to review Alberta Agriculture & Forestry's full wheat midge forecast map posting and how they conduct their survey by linking here.

Figure 2.  Alberta wheat midge forecast map for 2017.

Additional information related to wheat midge biology and monitoring can be accessed by linking to your provincial fact sheet (Saskatchewan Agriculture or Alberta Agriculture & Forestry).  A review of wheat midge on the Canadian prairies was published by Elliott, Olfert, and Hartley in 2011.

More information about Wheat midge can be found by accessing the pages from the new "Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Field Guide".  View ONLY the Wheat midge pages but remember the guide is available as a free downloadable document as both an English-enhanced or French-enhanced version.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Updated Livestock-Poultry Pest Control Guide - Philip

Hugh Philip recently updated the guide, “Recommendations for the Control of Arthropod Pests of Livestock, Poultry and Farm Buildings in Western Canada”. This is an 70-page guide and a valuable resource providing an updated list of insecticides used to control pests of livestock.  The Guide has been posted as a downloadable pdf file.

We are grateful to Hugh for his work and his permission to post the updated Guide here for all to use!  Also find a copy of this guide posted on the Western Forum of Pest Management website.

Please pay special attention to the PREFACE which has been copied below:
"This Guide was originally prepared and updated by the Western Committee on Livestock Pests (WCLP) until 1999. The control products listed in the Guide are recommended for use on livestock and poultry and in farm buildings in Western Canada. Not all of the products listed are available through all agricultural chemical retailers and veterinary clinics. The information presented in this Guide does not supersede or substitute the instructions on the product labels. Always read the label before using any control product recommended in this Guide. The Guide is also subject to all those changes, including deletions and revisions in the label claims of products that are authorized by Health Canada as required under the Pest Control Products Act and the Food and Drugs Act."

The table of contents for this guide has been copied below:

Thursday, 24 November 2016

2016 Swede Midge Pheromone Monitoring - Olfert, Mori, Vankosky

In 2016, swede midge pheromone traps were deployed at 62 sites across the Prairie region to monitor adult populations of this brassica pest. Of the 62 trap sites, two were located in BC, 13 in Alberta, 29 in Saskatchewan (where positive swede midge identifications were made in 2007 and 2009), and 13 in Manitoba. The map below illustrates trap site locations in 2016.

None of the traps were positive for swede midge in 2016. 

We are grateful to all of the producers, agronomists, and cooperators who participated in the 2016 swede midge monitoring project. Without your assistance, we could not have supported such a thorough and widespread pheromone monitoring program. 

We also extend our thanks to Nancy Melnychuk (AAFC-Saskatoon) for organizing the program, distributing trapping materials, and processing returned sticky cards for adult swede midge.

Because of the serious threat that swede midge poses to canola production, it is vital that monitoring for swede midge continues across the Prairies. At this time, plans are being made for the 2017 swede midge monitoring program. Agrologists or growers interested in performing weekly monitoring in 2017 are encouraged to email either your provincial entomologist or the survey researchers hyperlinked below for more information.

Owen Olfert (AAFC-Saskatoon) 

Boyd Mori (AAFC-Saskatoon) 
Meghan Vankosky (AAFC-Saskatoon) 

John Gavloski (Manitoba Agriculture) 
Scott Hartley (Saskatchewan Agriculture) 
Scott Meers (Alberta Agriculture & Forestry) 

More information about swede midge can be found by:
• Referring to the Canola Watch article by Dr. Julie Soroka or accessing a new Ontario fact sheet produced by Baute et al. 2016.
• Accessing the swede midge pages within the new Field Guide which is available as a free download in either English or French.

Monday, 7 November 2016

AAFC posts new IPM video

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

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

I would be remiss if I didn't add that AAFC entomologists partner with provincial, university, industry and private entomologists in the region and across Canada to discover, monitor and publicize the latest findings and trends in crop pests and beneficials.

You might also like to take a look at 'Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management Guide’ for information and full colour pictures of important economic Prairie crop insects and spiders. Download links are available on the ‘Insect of Week’ page.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

2016 Harvest in western Canada

The Canadian Grain Commission holds and generates a wealth of information related to harvest in Canada AND they have one of the best Stored Product Pest online resources which includes a photographic identification key plus grain management tips.  

It doesn't matter if you're an entomologist, an agrologist, or one of our hard-working growers - we all pay attention to harvest and here's what the CGC is able to share with us as of October 27, 2016:

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Upcoming Meetings and Conferences (2016-17)

Upcoming Meetings and Conferences – The following agricultural insect pest-related meetings and conferences are scheduled for this year:

• October 19-21, 2016:  The Western Forum on Pest Management 2016 meets at Saskatoon SK.  Check for more information.  You can review the Western Committee on Crop Pests agenda and watch for the Western Committee on Plant Diseases agenda to be posted on the homepage.  Registration for this event is online and accessible here

• October 21, 2016:  The Canadian Forum for Biological Control will meet immediately following the Western Forum on Pest Management at Saskatoon SK the afternoon of October 21, 2016.  

• October 25-27, 2016:  2016 Canola Discovery Forum will be held at Winnipeg MB.  Registration information is located at:

• October 27-29, 2016:  The annual meeting of the Entomological Society of Alberta will be held at Calgary AB.  Details are posted at: 

• October 28-29, 2016:  The annual meeting of the Entomological Society of Manitoba will be held at Winnipeg MB.  Details have been posted at:

• TBA:  Refer to the Entomological Society of Saskatchewan’s website for upcoming events.  Information will be posted at: 

• November 22-24, 2016:  The Canadian Weed Science Society meets in Moncton NB and more information is available at 

• January 9-11, 2017:  CropSphere Agricultural Conference will be held at Saskatoon SK.  More information is available at: 

• January 17-19, 2017: The Manitoba Ag Days show will be held at Brandon MB. More information will be available at: 

• January 31-February 2, 2017:  Registration for FarmTech 2017 opens November 10, 2016!  Register by linking to the website at: .

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

2016 Canola Midge Surveying in Alberta

This summer, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry Staff performed a survey of 42 canola sites in central Alberta on July 20, 21, 25, and 26 of 2016 and detected larvae within flower buds at multiple sites but ALWAYS AT LOW DENSITIES.  

At each site, buds on canola plants were assessed for typical bell damage then dissected either in the field or later in the laboratory to determine if midge larvae were present.  Results of the survey are described and mapped with the incidence of either:  
   1) buds with swede midge-type damage and containing larvae, or
   2) buds with swede midge-type damage but containing no larvae, or 
   3) no buds buds showing swede midge-type damage.
Review Alberta Agriculture & Forestry's 2016 canola midge survey methods and map here.  A screenshot (retrieved 07Sep2016) is below for reference.

Watch for survey results from Saskatchewan!  The preliminary data indicates the distribution of midge in canola within Saskatchewan has increased in 2016 compared to 2015.

Find more swede midge information:
- Refer to the Canola Watch article by Dr. Julie Soroka or review the new Ontario fact sheet produced by Baute et al. 2016.  

- Review the previous Weekly Update post for swede midge from Week 16 in 2016. 

- Review the swede midge page from the new Field Guide.  A screen shot is included below for reference.

Access the above swede midge page within the new "Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and management field guide" - both English-enhanced or French-enhanced versions are available for free - download them!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Insect of the Week - August 29, 2016

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

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Weekly Update (August 24, 2016; Wk 17) - Otani, Giffen, Weiss, Olfert


This is the last Weekly Update of the 2016 growing season!  Many thanks to everyone who helped prepare the various sections and insect pest updates for the past 17 weeks! Thanks to those of you who monitor and good luck with harvest!

A downloadable PDF version of the complete Weekly Update for Week 17 (August 24, 2016) can be accessed here.  

Subscribe to the Blog by following the instructions posted here!  Receive automatic updates during the fall and winter months in your inbox.

Questions or problems accessing the contents of this Weekly Update?  Please e-mail either Dr. Owen Olfert or Jennifer Otani.  Past “Weekly Updates” are very kindly archived to the Western Forum website by webmaster, Dr. Kelly Turkington.  

Weekly Update (Aug 24, 2016; Wk 17) - Weather Synopsis

Weather synopsis – The updated growing degree day map (GDD) (Base 5ºC, March 1 – August 21, 2016) is below:

While the growing degree day map (GDD) (Base 10ºC, March 1 – August 21, 2016) is below:

The map below shows the Lowest Temperatures the Past 7 Days (August 17-23, 2016) across the prairies:

The map below shows the Highest Temperatures the Past 7 Days (August 17-23, 2016):

The maps above are all produced by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.  Growers may wish to bookmark the AAFC Drought Watch Maps for the growing season.

Weekly Update (August 24, 2016; Wk 17) - Pre-Harvest Intervals (PHI)

Pre-Harvest Interval (PHI) -Reminder – Growers with late-season insect pest problems will need to remember to factor in the PHI which is the minimum number of days between a pesticide application and swathing or straight combining of a crop.  

The PHI recommends sufficient time for a pesticide to break down and a PHI-value is both crop- and pesticide-specific.  Adhering to the PHI is important for a number of health-related reasons but also because Canada’s export customers strictly regulate and test for the presence of trace residues of pesticides.

An excellent summary of PHI for various pesticides in their various crops was posted by Saskatchewan Agriculture this week within their Crop Production News.

In 2013, the Canola Council of Canada created and circulated their “Spray to Swath Interval Calculator” which was intended to help canola growers accurately estimate their PHI.  Other PHI are described in your provincial crop protection guides and remember that specific crop x pesticide combinations will mean different PHIs.  More information about PHI and Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) is available on the Canola Council of Canada's website.

Weekly Update (August 24, 2016; Wk 17) - Meet Dr. Haley Catton

Dr. Haley Catton joined AAFC-Lethbridge as a Research Scientist in Cereal Crop Entomology in April 2016. With a diverse background in studying trees, weeds, native plants, insects, and mammals, Haley specializes in population biology, insect-plant interactions, biological control, field experimentation and analysis of large data sets. Originally from Winnipeg, Haley earned a B.Sc. (Agriculture) and M.Sc. (Plant Science) from the University of Manitoba, a Ph.D. (Insect-Plant Interactions) from the University of British Columbia Okanagan, and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Lethbridge. Her research program at AAFC will draw from all of these experiences to focus on pest and beneficial insects in cereal crops on the prairies. Her target pests range from established problems like wheat stem sawfly and wireworm to emerging pests such as the invasive cereal leaf beetle.

Haley wants to connect with producers and hear about your priorities for research. Follow her on Twitter at @haleycatton or reach her at or 403.317.3404. Fair warning: Haley is a diehard Blue Bombers fan… Saskatchewan Roughriders fans beware.