GFM Network News


We know beneficial insects eat crop pests — ladybugs, for example, love aphids — but now Alberta researchers armed with advanced DNA tools are taking a deep dive into their eating habits. The goal is to identify top pest predators and find ways to enhance their numbers in fields.

Next-gen DNA sequencing aims to find the best beneficial bugs

U of A researchers using advanced tech to find what’s on the menu of your insect allies

Reading Time: 3 minutes It’s like a scene out of the movie “Jaws.” The intrepid scientist reaches his hand into the gut of a shark and pulls out what it had for dinner — a different fish or maybe, in the case of sharks, a tin can. He knows, just by examining those contents, what this predator likes to […] Read more

Alberta has many types of ground beetles, but they’re good guys — adults eat weed seeds and their larvae feed on pest insects.

Last year’s lousy weather had one beneficial side-effect

Conditions were good for ground beetles, a beneficial insect that is a friend to farmers

Reading Time: < 1 minute If you’ve seen large numbers of beetles this spring, researcher Kevin Floate would like to hear from you. One such report has been received from a location north of Edmonton, and more are likely. This outbreak is similar to one in 2010 when large numbers of ground beetles were reported in several locations in the […] Read more


A canola council project looking at beneficial insects in wetlands, shelterbelts, and other insect habitats caused a Twitter firestorm when farmers thought the organization was partnering with Ducks Unlimited Canada.

Confusing canola council tweet ‘bugs’ farmers

Tweet suggested council and Ducks Unlimited were partnering in agronomy project on beneficial insects

Reading Time: 3 minutes A tweet that suggested the Canola Council of Canada and Ducks Unlimited Canada were working together on an agronomy project prompted a firestorm of angry comments. The tweet, posted on Feb. 1, was about a project on beneficial insects in wetlands, shelterbelts, and other insect habitats. The idea of the canola council and Ducks Unlimited […] Read more

Distinct markings give adult gall flies a rather striking appearance, while their larvae are anything but attractive. But they can do serious damage to a Canada thistle.

Tiny warriors get nasty on Canada thistle

Stem gall flies love to feed on — and breed in — the much-loathed and fast-spreading invasive weed

Reading Time: 2 minutes The West Central Forage Association has another biocontrol that can help you win the war against Canada thistle. The proud warriors are called stem gall flies and they’re available for sale. “The gall flies act on a different portion of the Canada thistle than the weevils do,” said Rachael Nay, conservation agriculture and extension program […] Read more


Banchus flavesce is a species of parasitoid wasp that stings bertha army worms.

They don’t wear capes, but beneficial bugs are superheroes

New campaign urges farmers to give a little more love to the good bugs that kill bad ones

Reading Time: 3 minutes They’re in your field, lurking there, doing their thing. But do you know who they are? Can you identify your beneficial insects? That’s the goal behind the Western Grains Research Foundation’s Field Heroes campaign. “It’s basically a social media campaign to increase the profile of the beneficial insects that are in your field crops,” said […] Read more

Seven beneficial insects on your farm

Seven beneficial insects on your farm

When making crop production management decisions, consider beneficial insect populations. These harmless bugs can provide adequate control if their populations are high enough. Some beneficial insects are hard to identify, but with some basic training producers should be able to spot them in the field. The following beneficial insects are found in most crops in[...]
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All of these bugs are your friends. Clockwise from upper left are a lacewing on a canola flower, hoverflies on a flower, a ground beetle, and the alligator-like larvae of an Asian lady. 

In a bug-eat-bug world, farmers should help out their insect friends

Beneficial insects are tiny killing machines that can significantly reduce crop pests, says entomologist

Reading Time: 3 minutes Beneficial insects can be an unpaid workforce on your farm by killing pest species. And if you don’t help out the good ones, then you’re favouring those you don’t want, says an entomologist with Manitoba’s Agriculture Department. “Nature does not like a void,” said John Gavloski. “If you had no insects in a field or[...]
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Soybean aphids in a field near Portage la Prairie photographed July 26, 2017. Photo: Taralea Simpson, Munro Farm Supplies

Some soybean aphids showing up so scout your fields

Soybean aphids are being found in some soybean fields near Portage la Prairie and some fields have been sprayed, while others are being monitored, Red Beard Farms aerial applicator Chris McCallister said in an interview July 27. The threshold for applying an insecticide to control soybean aphids is 250 and rising. The “rising” part is[...]
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Website identifies your insect friends

Website identifies your insect friends

WGRF works with Prairie Pest Monitoring Network to develop online and social media sites


Reading Time: < 1 minute Not all heroes wear capes. That’s the message behind a new communications campaign to increase awareness of some unsung heroes — beneficial insects. Recently launched by Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF), the ‘Field Heroes’ campaign encourages growers and agronomists to consider beneficial insects in crop production recommendations and decisions. “Beneficial insects play a vital pest[...]
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Getting the good bugs on your side

Getting the good bugs on your side

Tweaking your pesticide applications and field management can boost the populations of beneficial bugs

Reading Time: 2 minutes Encouraging and protecting natural enemies can be an excellent way to control pest populations. “Everybody is familiar with ladybugs and lacewings as voracious, pest-consuming beneficial insects,” said Dustin Morton, commercial horticulture specialist with the Alberta Ag-Info Centre. “But fewer are familiar with how natural enemies such as hover flies, ground beetles, and even yellow-jacket wasps[...]
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