Guenther: Alta. cutworms sought for mapping, posterity

If you’re an Alberta farmer and your crops have got cutworms, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development wants to know.

Scott Meers, an entomologist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, is asking farmers to report cutworms online. The province uses those reports to create an interactive map displaying cutworm sightings.

Meers and provincial insect research technologist Shelley Barkley host weekly bug chats on Twitter using the hashtag #Abbugchat. In the first chat of the 2015 growing season, held Wednesday, they fielded farmer questions and shared information on pests ranging from diamondback moths to wireworms.

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Barkley is hoping to get her hands on cutworms before the sprayer gets them. “I would like to put (them) on feed and rear them for photos,” she said.

They’re also looking for pea fields to survey for pea leaf weevil damage, Barkley said. Farmers can find their contact information and field entry protocols on the Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network website.

Cutworms

Meers said they were getting cutworm reports, mostly from southern Alberta, where some farmers are spraying for the pests.

Cool weather and slow crop growth means the pests will have a bigger impact, Meers said.

Diamondback moth traps are reporting higher numbers from Vulcan through Strathmore, Meers said, adding that the numbers aren’t at “alarming levels,” yet but worth watching. Natural enemies sometimes wipe out the moths, he added.

Meers said he’s also hearing of wireworms. Meers hadn’t heard of flea beetle issues yet, but said now is the time to scout for the pests. Warm weather will also mean more pea leaf weevil activity.

Meers concluded the chat with two pests to watch for in a dry summer: “Mites in winter wheat and grass bugs, both green and black, in cereals.”

The next #Abbugchat is set for May 27 at 10 a.m. Follow Shelley Barkley (@Megarhyssa) and Scott Meers (@ABbugcounter) on Twitter.

Lisa Guenther is a field editor for Grainews at Livelong, Sask. Follow her at @LtoG on Twitter.

 

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