The Agronomists, Ep 90: John Gavloski and James Tansey on lesser-known and up-and-coming pests

Northern corn rootworm Supplied: Manitoba Agriculture

There are so many insects in the world that most of them likely haven’t been described yet. From some of the more common insects, such as the flea beetle, to a lesser-known such as a the beet webworm, this episode of The Agronomists tackles as much as we can in an hours’ time.

Host Lyndsey Smith is joined by Dr. James Tansey of Saskatchewan Agriculture, and Dr. John Gavloski of Manitoba Agriculture.

This episode of the Agronomists is brought to you by ADAMA Canada, Decisive Farming by Telus Agriculture, CanolaMaster, and the Disruptors, an RBC podcast.

Catch a new episode of The Agronomists every Monday night at 8 pm E!



  • There are over 3000 entomologists in one spot. Imagine the conversations!
  • What is a beet webworm?
  • They realllly like feeding on weeds. Especially lamb’s-quarters
  • Gavloski says it’s easy to tell the difference between all the insects…but we beg to differ. It takes a trained eye, that’s for sure
  • Barley thrips, primarily important in barley and durum. Can also be damaging in oats as well. Threshold is 7-8 per stem
  • Is there a thrips species that attacks canola? Yes. Some of the flower thrips are the most common. They will feed on the young pods, and cause them to curl like a curly fry
  • We can see thrips occasionally in soybeans

Clip 1: Corn School: Managing corn rootworm above and below ground

  • Corn rootworm can be detrimental
  • Growing with a curved stem is known as goosenecking
  • Rotation is your number one means of controlling corn rootworm.
  • Like most things in life…you can’t make too broad of assumptions
  • Insects are really good at overcoming resistance genes. If you are applying the same selection pressure on their every year, they are going to overcome it
  • Monitor your counts!
  • Canola flower midge is in the same gene as swede midge, but it is NOT swede midge! Superficially, they look like mosquitos
  • You will see a bell shape on the canola flower when the midge is feasting
  • We need more entomologists. Too many bugs.

CLIP 2: Canola School: Sweeping and scouting for cabbage seedpod weevil

  • When sweeping, kind in mind the time of day. Dew plays a big part in what you will find.
  • With cabbage seed pod weevil, it’s the larval damage we are really concerned about
  • Cabbage seed pod weevil populations are growing
  • As pest species show up and move in areas that are outside of their typical hot-spots, beneficial insects could move with them too
  • The enemy release hypothesis.
  • A good example of biological control is the cereal leaf beetle
  • We cannot keep spraying like we are for flea beetles. We are at a juncture for flea beetles
  • For flea beetles it’s a difficult conundrum. It’s such a numbers game. There are just SO many of them.
  • Anything we can do to reduce spraying flea beetle populations we should do — but currently, there’s no magic answer. Research is looking more at spray timing for them
  • The role of ground beetles in weed seed populations has some interesting research surrounding it
  • We do see some IDing apps. For common insects, they are typically pretty good, but for undiscovered ones, they won’t do the job
  • We’ve got millions species of insects around the world. For many, you need a microscope to tell them apart. There’s no app that will differentiate between the species accurately
  • This is the coolest guide. Check it out, here. (And guess what? It’s free.)


Wake up with RealAgriculture

Subscribe to our daily newsletters to keep you up-to-date with our latest coverage every morning.

Wake up with RealAgriculture