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.

Weekly Update (August 24, 2016; Wk 17) - Meet Dr. Meghan Vankosky

Dr. Meghan Vankosky started her position as a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Saskatoon Research and Development Centre on July 18, 2016. Most recently, Meghan worked as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside. Her work there focused on establishing a release program for a parasitoid used for biological control of the Asian citrus psyllid in southern California, and on studying the competitive interactions of that parasitoid with another primary parasitoid of the pest. In the past, Meghan studied the behavior and life history of an omnivore used for biological control at the University of Windsor in Ontario (Ph.D., 2010-2015), and integrated pest management strategies and biological control of the pea leaf weevil at the University of Alberta (M.Sc., 2008-2010).  

As a field crop entomologist with AAFC, Meghan hopes to develop a strong IPM-based research program that focuses on understanding insect pests and developing sustainable management programs that will benefit both producers and the environment. She currently plans to investigate the impact of the pea leaf weevil and assess management options for this pest in Saskatchewan. She will also be involved with a project studying the life history and impact of the swede midge in canola crops in the Prairies. 

Meghan can be reached at 1.306.385-9362 or

Weekly Update (August 24, 2016; Wk 17) - Meet Dr. Boyd Mori

Dr. Boyd Mori – (Biologist – Entomology) Boyd completed his PhD in 2014 at the University of Alberta on pheromone monitoring and management of the red clover casebearer (Coleophora deauratella) moth in the Peace River region of Alberta. He then undertook a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Alnarp, Sweden) where he researched the chemical ecology of the highly invasive spotted wing fruit fly (Drosophila suzukii) with a focus on alternative pest management strategies. Boyd joined AAFC-Saskatoon in April 2016.

Boyd’s primary project will be on the ecology of swede midge-host plant interactions, where he aims to identify host plant resistance mechanisms against the swede midge, a potentially significant pest of canola. He is a strong proponent of integrated pest management and has a robust background in insect behaviour and physiology which he uses to develop monitoring and management tools for insect pests.

Boyd can be reached at 1.306.385.9398 or

Weekly Update (August 24, 2016; Wk 17) - Meet Dr. Tyler Wist

Dr. Tyler Wist spent his early insect years killing mosquitoes before studying pollinators in Echinacea crops for his M.Sc. with Dr. Art Davis at the University of Saskatchewan. A Ph.D. from the University of Alberta with Dr. Maya Evenden taught him the unseen world of insect chemical ecology, and invasion dynamics and the parasitoid complex of a recently introduced lepidopteran pest, the ash leaf coneroller. Drs. Chrystel Olivier and Owen Olfert brought him in on an NSERC Visiting Fellowship on the cereal aphid project and then had him chasing leafhoppers in cereal and canola crops.  Tyler is the current President of the Entomological Society of Saskatchewan and has begun a research scientist position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research and Development Centre in Saskatoon as a Field Crop Entomologist on January 25th 2016.

Tyler is working on developing a dynamic action threshold for cereal aphids that incorporates the predatory pressure of natural enemies, determining the economic threshold and effect of landscapes on flea beetles in newer, hybrid canola varieties, and tracking aster leafhopper populations and aster yellows infection in canola and cereal crops.  He is also investigating new integrated pest management tools for wheat midge and chasing Lygus bugs in canola and aphids in pulse crops.

Tyler can be reached at or 306.385.9379.

Weekly Update (August 24, 2016; Wk 17) - West Nile Virus and Culex tarsalis

West Nile Virus Risk –  The regions most advanced in degree-day accumulations for Culex tarsalis, the vector for West Nile Virus, are shown in the map below.  As of August 21, 2016areas highlighted in yellow, orange, or red on the map below have accumulated sufficient heat for C. tarsalis to fly so wear your DEET to stay protected!

The Public Health Agency of Canada posts information related to West Nile Virus in Canada.  The map of clinical cases of West Nile Virus in Canada in 2016 is posted (as of July 23, 2016) while a screen shot is provided below (posted August 22, 2016).

The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative compiles and posts information related to their disease surveillance for West Nile Virus.  As of August 22, 2016, 36 birds were submitted for testing and two have tested positive for West Nile virus in Ontario