Friday, 11 February 2022

2022 International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Did you know..... February 11, 2022, is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science! Our lab marked the day with a selection of photos of our team members actively performing a variety of tasks supporting research in the field of Entomology! 

Figure 1. Jennifer and Ross collecting insects in canola growing near McLennan AB in 2008 as part of the annual survey of the Peace River region (2003-present).

Figure 2. Jennifer leading a school-aged tour through the Crop Services Building at the AAFC-Beaverlodge Research farm in June 2017.

Figure 3. Amanda collecting wheat midge soil core samples from snow-covered wheat stubble near Rolla BC in April 2017. 

Figure 4. Shelby collecting a sweep-net sample in canola growing near Hines Creek AB in July 2017.

Figure 5. Tessa using the stereomicroscope to sort and identify frozen insects from sweep-net samples collected in 2021 from alfalfa.

Figure 6. Vicky hand-sorting frozen arthropods collected in alfalfa in 2021 using a paint brush.

Figure 7. Jordon constructing vial storage for long-term cold storage of ethanol-immersed pitfall trap arthropods.



Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Winter 2022 and our IPM Team!

Our field research program at Beaverlodge hinges on technical support - these are people who implement the science we are fortunate to be supported to do in the Peace River region!

This winter, our program has new people hired who are rapidly learning a LOT about how to process and begin to identify the more than 110 arthropod species that are active in annual and perennial field crops  grown throughout the region. Learn more about Jordon, Vicky, Tessa, and Tanya. They join ShelbyAmanda, and me and we're the IPM Team for the winter of 2022!

Welcome Jordon!

Greetings, I am Jordon Chan – currently a Research Assistant in the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) at the Beaverlodge Research Farm. I started with the program in early December and I will be working with them until late April 2022. 

In terms of my background, I studied at the Red Deer College/Polytechnic, earning a General Kinesiology Diploma in 2013 prior to initiating studies at the University of Alberta where I earned my Bachelor of Science with Specialization in Microbiology as well as a Research Certificate in Biological Sciences in 2017. I am currently focusing on an online M.Sc. in International Security at the Paris Graduate School and a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration at Thompson Rivers University. 

My curiosity has led me to travel and new experiences. I've travelled to the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Eastern Canada, and the Southeastern Continental USA. As part of my current job, the processing of wireworm pitfall samples for the AAF-SRDP 2019E13R Biodiversity Project, has developed a new intrigue with the diversity in carabids, staphylinids, and elaterids. I like to be active and about with pursuits ranging from training, studying, SCUBA diving, dancing, hiking, or camping in my rooftop tent.


“We are small giants in this massive world”


Welcome Vicky!

Hello! My name is Vicky Tang. I am a Co-Op Student at the University of Manitoba currently working with the Insect Pest Management (IPM) lab at the Beaverlodge Research Farm this winter! This is my first work placement and I am anxious and excited to learn about the ins and outs of working in a lab. 

I am a 4th year student at the University of Manitoba pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences. I am pursuing a major in environmental and integrative physiology and a minor in entomology. My interest in environmental conservation opened my eyes to the importance of insects and their role in agriculture. 

Figure 1. Vicky picking tomatoes to send to the marketplace in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

I used to shiver at the thought of insects, but my first entomology course changed that fear into passionate interest! I am excited to help with processing, data entry, and data management resulting from the hard work that went into collecting samples in the crazy year that was 2021. I want to learn more about how this data is used to promote further study and benefit growers in the Peace River region.

I am looking forward to learning how to identify pest insects from this region and developing crucial lab skills. 

Welcome Tessa!

Hello! My name is Tessa Ferch and I am a new Co-Op Student with the University of Manitoba in the Insect Pest Management Program at the Beaverlodge Research Farm. I will be working in-person at the research farm from January to August 2022.

I am a fourth-year student at the University of Manitoba, where I am in the process of obtaining a Bachelor of Science. I'm pursuing a major in Evolution and Biodiversity, and a minor in Entomology. I have completed five different entomology courses as part of my studies that covered a wide range of topics including crop pests, animal pests, predators and parasites of pests, and pollinators.

Figure 1. Tessa enjoying the winter weather in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

As an undergraduate, I've been working to build my skills and experience. Prior to coming to Beaverlodge, I worked as a Co-Op Student with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Brandon Research and Development Centre. While at Brandon, I worked remotely and contributed towards building research background information related to agronomic studies focusing on crop rotations. Before that, I spent two summers working at Henteleff Park in Winnipeg, Manitoba where I was involved with maintaining the park. During this time, I witnessed a huge diversity of insects.  My work experiences, supported by my university education, have contributed to my fascination with different types of animals - especially insects. I am excited to join the IPM team!

Welcome Tanya!

My name is Tanya Proctor. I'm 46-yrs-old and Mom to two grown boys.

I recently joined the team at the Beaverlodge Research Farm where I am working in the Insect Pest Management (IPM) program. I am helping process wireworm pitfall samples collected as part of the AAF-SRDP 2019E13R Biodiversity  Project. I am busy familiarizing myself with the families of insects within the order of Coleoptera, or the beetles. Data collected from these samples will be used to determine which species of wireworms or click beetles (Elateridae) are present and active in field crops grown in the Peace River region. 

Figure 1. Tanya's family celebrating her youngest son's graduation.

I've worked in horticulture since 2007, when I started out as a seasonal temporary employee helping to sort tree seedlings to specific size, and get them packaged up and ready to ship out for planting. I realized this was something I wanted to know more about so I started with the company full time, joining the grow team as the irrigation specialist. Along with many other tasks, I would walk the crops of 10-12 million tree seedlings every day to monitor the watering needs, as well as watch for pests, diseases, irregular growth patterns. In 2008, I began online horticulture classes through the University of Guelph while continuing to work full time. In 2014 I completed my Horticulture Certificate. I intend to continue these classes and finish my full diploma in Horticulture.

I am interested and excited to learn more about all insects and how they affect the crops grown in our area!

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Talking about wheat midge, its parasitoids, and the value of wheat stubble

Wheat stubble, particularly if it’s beneath 2021’s canola crop, has hidden value in the form of beneficial Macroglenes penetrans wasps that begin to emerge as the canola reaches early to mid-flowering stages. 

In 2014, we were excited to observe high numbers of these mighty parasitoid wasps in our canola sweeps at several locations throughout the Peace River region and we were able to track the highest numbers back to canola standing above wheat stubble! Since then, we’ve tracked M. penetrans to even more sites throughout the region so we urge growers to consider that 2020’s wheat stubble contains a powerful ally – but only if they manage it well in 2021!


AAFC photo of wheat midge (Sitodiplosis mosellana).
Photo: AAFC-Beaverlodge, A. Jorgensen and S. Dufton”

AAFC photo of Macroglenes penetrans.
Photo: AAFC-Beaverlodge, S. Dufton”

Graphic summary of the lifecycle of the wheat midge: Review Figure 6 (Image credit: Extension Entomology, NDSU) shared within the "Integrated pest management of the wheat midge" (Knodel 2016). https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/crops/integrated-pest-management-of-the-wheat-midge-in-north-dakota


Access more information related to this topic:

• Jorgensen, A., Otani, J, Evenden, M.  2020.  Assessment of available tools for monitoring wheat midge, Sitodiplosis mosellana (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae). Environmental Entomology. 49(3): 627-637.  https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvaa017

• Jorgensen, A., Evenden, M.L., Olfert, O., Otani, J. 2020. Seasonal emergence patterns of Sitodiplosis mosellana (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) in the Peace River region, Alberta, Canada. The Canadian Entomologist.  153: 222–236. (Published Online 2020Jan15). https://doi.org/10.4039/tce.2020.76 

• Dufton, S.V., Laird, R.A., Floate, K.D., Otani, J.K. 2020.  Diversity, rate, and distribution of wheat midge parasitism in the Peace River region of Alberta, Canada. The Canadian Entomologist. (Accepted 2020Dec22; Published Online 2021Apr14). https://www.doi.org/10.4039/tce.2021.7 

• Predators & Parasitoids Series 2 podcast entitled, “Secret Agents in the Stubble” where Jennifer Otani describes the relationship between wheat stubble and M. penetrans.

• A Growing Point article entitled, “Wheat midge parasitism in the Peace River region” which provides an overview about parasitism levels in wheat midge and its and dominant parasitid, M. penetrans.

• Learn more about midge tolerant wheat

• A fun infographic describing why and how wheat midge pheromone traps are used to assess risk (Jorgensen 2016).

• A visual guide used to train student assistants to identify wheat midge adults (Jorgensen 2016).


• Field Heroes new Field Guide (free PDF copy)



Finally, every year growers across the Canadian prairies have four valuable sources of information supporting their management of wheat midge:

1. Refer to annual forecast map to assess if fields in your region are anticipated to carry a higher risk of potential high densities of viable wheat midge in 2021 - Maps are normally available by mid-January and onwards for Saskatchewan and Alberta while the PPMN’s prairie-wide map is normally available in March. Before seed is purchased, growers can access these forecast maps to assess potential risk for wheat midge. Growers in high areas of risk should consider midge-tolerant cultivars.  In June, review these maps to help gauge regional risk levels for wheat midge.

2. From June to July, access the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network’s “Weekly Updates” – Predictive model outputs are updated weekly through the growing season. These estimates use current weather data observed across the Canadian prairies along with biologically known parameters necessary for wheat midge to develop. More specifically, the outputs estimate dates when 50, 80, or 90% of regional wheat midge populations have begun to emerge from cocoons. Ideally, growers begin in-field scouting from 90% onwards in order to most accurately assess their actual in-field populations and apply economic thresholds (if they’re growing wheat cultivars susceptible to wheat midge). 

3. By mid-June, track provincial weekly reporting resources to find updated estimates of regional wheat midge numbers intercepted in pheromone-baited traps (Alberta's Live Map, Saskatchewan’s Crop Production News, or Manitoba’s Crop Pest Updates). Cumulative counts of adults in the traps serve as estimates that again help growers prioritize the need for in-field scouting in their region. Every field can vary so in-field scouting is needed to accurately assess pest densities but also to refrain from spraying insecticide when numbers remain below the thresholds. In the latter situation, opting NOT to CONTROL preserves resident natural enemies like Macroglenes penetrans

4. Links detailing how to perform in-field scouting AND the two economic thresholds for wheat midge are available from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Saskatchewan Agriculture, and Manitoba Agriculture and Rural Development.