The Agronomists, Ep 107: All about aphids and their killers with Tracey Baute and Tyler Wist

Greenhouse aphids on bindweed (T.Wist, AAFC, Supplied)

There are several pest species of aphids that attack crops in Canada. Some species are very host-specific, such as the soybean aphid, but others can be found on several plant hosts. Aphids are known to be able to build numbers incredibly rapidly and so require careful scouting during the growing season.

To unpack what we know and need to consider when deciding on control of these pests, host Lyndsey Smith is joined by Tracey Baute, provincial entomologist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Tyler Wist, with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Saskatoon.

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SUMMARY:

  • Before we focus on aphids, what are our guests looking at for 2023? In the east, spider mites and rootworm (resistance!) and in the west, grasshoppers
  • On to aphids! There are several species — some are very host specific
  • Soybean aphids and cereal aphids are not the same species
  • Can beneficials keep them in check? It depends
  • Green peach aphid, for example, can be found on a lot of different hosts. Whereas something like soybean aphids, it has two hosts: soybeans and buckthorn
  • Honey dew? What is honey dew when it comes to aphids?
  • Basically aphid poop. Also called frass.
  • Aphids eat phloem — liquid and full of nutrients
  • Big question: with the challenges with lambda-cy, are we concerned about resistance to other insecticides due to more use?
  • Yes, and no. The lambda-cy products don’t work as well in the heat, so there are other options that may be the better choice anyway
  • Speaking about aphids, they often come out when it’s hot out
  • The key for this season is to make sure that you’re only using lambda-cy on crops where no part goes for feed
  • Why is soybean aphid worse in eastern Ontario?
  • Gilles Quesnel has done some work showing a yield increase with Sefina over Matador, and Sefina is less toxic to beneficials
  • What about that aphid app? Find it here
  • There’s a cereal aphid app too!
  • These apps take in to account beneficial insect counts
  • Do milder winters mean more aphids?
  • We have a lot of pests that are going to potentially be a problem with mild winters
  • Some aphids are carried by wind. They grow wings when needed (sneaky!)
  • Aphids can respond quickly to conditions. They give birth to live young that are ALREADY PREGNANT. What the heck, aphids
  • Bird cherry oat aphids like canary seed too
  • Instead of eliminating host crops for pests, we should be improving habitat for beneficials!
  • Butt snorkels = cornicles. Write that down
  • The mama aphid can actually alert her babies to scatter if a ladybug shows up to eat them
  • Clip 1: Do beneficials in the wheat crop help with pests in the soybean crop later?
  • Building beneficials is always a good idea
  • Does a high level of cereal aphid mean to keep a look out later in soybeans? Not necessarily
  • Aphids do slow down in hot weather
  • Let’s talk cereal leaf beetle
  • They wear their poop as a backpack
  • There are some cool parasitoids! T. julis, is one, but it’s missing in Ontario. MIA
  • Cereal leaf beetle causes window panes in leaves
  • Mummified cereal aphids (see photo above) become hosts for wasp larvae. Sci-Fi thriller
  • What’s a hyper-parasitoid? Wasps that kill good wasps
  • Leave your leaf litter alone, people. It’s where ladybugs over winter
  • Does a product that’s easier on beneficials change the threshold for spraying?
  • Plants do fight insects in subtle ways
  • Aphids will leave a plant that is too stressed
  • There are fungal pathogens that can take out aphids, too
  • Why is T. julis missing in Ontario? We don’t know
  • Could the introduction of more help out the “hot spots”?
  • Praying mantis is very territorial. A beneficial, but not that useful. They don’t travel much

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