Saturday, 26 May 2018

Meet our students (2018) - Introducing Mariah!

Hi everyone! My name is Mariah Ediger and I am enrolled in the third year of a Bachelor of Natural Resource Science degree at Thompson Rivers University. On January 8, 2018, I started to work in the Integrated Pest Management Lab at the Beaverlodge Research Farm for a four month Co-op work term.

So far I have been helping Shelby Dufton, a M.Sc. candidate, process pitfall samples collected during the 2017 field season as part of a multi-year research project examining natural enemies attacking wheat midge. This project assesses the diversity of natural enemies associated with wheat production and will generate new data on both pest and beneficials occurring within the Peace River region.

Processing pitfalls involves retrieving, identifying and counting carabid (ground) beetles, staphylinid (rove) beetles, other beetles, and any arachnids preserved in the sample. Some carabid beetle species are natural enemies of the wheat midge. Others provide free services for farmers by eating other pest insects and weed species. These beneficial beetles offer another management strategy for farmers besides insecticides and resistant crop varieties, thus expanding a farmer's arsenal of weapons to target pests.

This field research study also examines factors such as crop rotations and seeding rates on canopy closure and carabid activity patterns because we hope to identify field situations that potentially preserve or augment ground beetles in wheat.  In addition to the beetles present in the wheat production system, the project also assesses parasitoid levels in the research plots and surrounding commercial fields.  Macroglenes penetrans and two other species of parasitoid wasps were researched then approved for release to control wheat midge in the mid-80 in Saskatchewan.  This study seeks to assess the diversity, density and distribution of these parasitoids within the Peace River region.

So far, this experience has been great and I look forward to learning more about carabid beetles and the challenges facing agriculture on the prairies regarding insect pests.

Figure 1.  Mariah holding a Madagascar hissing cockroach (Grompnadorina portentosa) from
the IPM lab colony (founded by of Paul Coghlin's colony).