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Feb 13

Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network

Posted on Feb 13 By: David Simbo, Research Program Manager | Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions

The Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network provides useful information that could impact our farm positively. A fundamental first step in implementing an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy is pest monitoring. Insects are monitored using several tools such as sticky traps, pheromone traps and pitfall traps among others.

The data gathered from these traps can be used for tracking insect populations and migrations, informing pesticide application. Forecasts and early warnings based on data collected throughout the growing season or previous year provides lead time to effectively control impending insect attacks, optimize control measures and reduce crop damage and production costs. Forecasts utilize prevailing and anticipated weather conditions to inform producers of ideal spraying winds to minimize crop damage and maximize crop yield and returns.

Through a network of applied research associations, agriculture fieldmen, private agronomists and farmers, the Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network collects information from the field to build forecast maps. For example, forecasting for wheat midge is done by collecting soil samples from wheat fields across the province. The samples are analyzed for wheat midge eggs. The number of eggs found gives an indication of how many midges may be present in a particular area. Through this information, forecasts are made which also take into consideration weather patterns. Traps for wheat midge adults are also used to get estimates of the number of active adults to assist in making control and management decisions.

The Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network is useful in producing forecasts for several insects of agricultural importance such as wheat stem sawfly, grasshoppers, bertha armyworm and cabbage seedpod weevil. The forecast maps and other information is posted online. An example includes the wheat midge forecast map for 2020. Some of the information provided by the Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network is also hosted on producer commission websites. Videos on how to set up insect traps and how to do sweeps when scouting are also hosted on the websites to make it even easier to use.
Additionally, the Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network’s website also contains information on invasive insect species which may pose a threat to our agriculture systems in Western Canada, such as the Swede midge, the Japanese beetle and the Western Bean cutworm. More information on these can be found here.

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