The Agronomists, Ep 20: Tracey Baute and James Tansey on early season insects to watch

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

It’s been a challenging year on many fronts, but here we are, yet again, gearing up for the new season. And that’s exciting!

Rootworm, western bean cutworm, and flea beetles are just a few of the insects that are on the watch list for Tracey Baute, field crop entomologist with OMAFRA. James Tansey, entomologist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, says wheat midge deserves a hard look for growers in the west. The duo join host Lyndsey Smith on this week’s episode of The Agronomists.

Catch a new episode of The Agronomists every Monday night at 8pm EST/6 pm MT!


  • March in like a lion, out like a lion?

Clip: Corn School: Managing Bt resistant corn rootworm

  • Rotation, rotation, rotation, rotation. Louder for the ones in the back: ROTATION. It’s a key management strategy when it comes to corn rootworm.
  • When was resistance first noticed?
    • Isolated fields over the last 5-6 years.
    • In the last two, we realized there were clusters.
    • Similar to what the U.S. was dealing with back in 2013.
  • Silage and high moisture corn is especially a concern for rootworm
  • This is a pest that needs those corn roots when it hatches…so is a one year break enough? What would be ideal?
    • More than one year, if possible.
  • Beneficial insects

Clip: Canola School: Watch for wireworm, the underground feeder

  • Lets promote our field heroes!
  • Beneficial insects are so important
  • Dynamic action threshold
  • Sweep those bugs
  • Aphids are a large tell
  • Baute would love to see more research on this — if we can reduce the amount of sprays, that’s important
  • We can’t talk Western Canada…without talking canola. Flea beetles!
    • When you get to 50 per cent damage, it’ll be a huge economic loss
    • Reseeding does happen…but lets try to catch them earlier
    • Some environmental factors get dovetailed with flea beetle damage
    • They are tough to catch, but there are tons of beneficial insects. Ladybugs, especially
  • Ladybugs deserve an award. That is all.
  • Understanding the life cycle of an insect is very important when it comes to combatting pests: know thy enemy
  • If you’ve got bare patches in a field, figure out what happened. It could be disease, but what if it’s an insect?

Clip: Corn School: Western bean cutworm still a threat in late-developing crop

  • Western bean cutworm
    • Put the traps out, scout for the eggs
    • 1600 traps out last year, and 1000 of them were western bean cutworm. From Michigan to Nova Scotia
    • It’s no longer just an issue in southern Ontario
    • Almost impossible to find in dry beans
    • When it comes to corn, it is really bad
    • We rely on insecticides…and this particular cutworm has already overcome one of the tools
    • A lot of discussion right now surrounding stem feeding and thresholds
  • Mystery midge in Saskatchewan…it’s now being called the canola flower midge.
    • There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding this right now. Working on thresholds
  • Alfalfa snout beetle. Those evil beetles!
    • the larvae is the real problem
    • plan to dig in September to see that larvae
    • rotation can help here, but alfalfa is a perennial, so that causes issues
    • two-year cycle
    • Nematodes are a natural predator. And yes, you can order nematodes
  • Grasshoppers
    • Lethbridge looks like a hotspot this year
    • four or five economically important ones
    • Two-striped being the most prominent
    • They really like it dry
  • Insects are cool. They are so specialized, and it’s fascinating what they do.
  • Everyone wear your biosecurity booties, please.

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