Pests & Predators, Ep. 2: An inside look at the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network

We’re back with the latest episode of Pests & Predators, and on this episode, you’ll hear from Dr. Meghan Vankosky. She is a research scientist in the field crop entomology department with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), based in Saskatoon, Sask.

In addition to the research Vankosky does for AAFC, she is also the co-chair of the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network (PPMN).

Many have heard of the network, but aren’t entirely aware of all the work they do. The PPMN is a network of entomologists that oversee and coordinate surveys for six or seven insect pests (depending on the year) across the prairie provinces. As Vankosky explains, they develop maps that show the distribution and relative abundance of the pests, as well as forecast maps for the upcoming year. The PPMN also sends out weekly updates during the growing season so that producers can stay on top of hot spots across the Prairies.

Currently, one of the projects the network is working on is the cabbage seed-pod weevil survey. This survey is especially interesting, as while they are collecting data for the weevil, they are also collecting data on beneficial insects in canola fields.

“What we do every year is we conduct a survey where we collect sweep net samples from the edges of canola fields, and then we count the number of weevils that we find in those samples so that we can estimate the number of weevils per sweep. And then we take all of that data, and put it into a map that shows the distribution of cabbage seed-pod weevil in Alberta and Saskatchewan.” Vankosky explains, adding that they are just starting to show up in Manitoba, so the data is primarily focused on the two provinces.

So far, from the survey, they’ve found some interesting data on some of the different functional groups of beneficial insects that impact the cabbage seed-pod weevil.

“What I’ve done in the last two years, is we actually have a summary of how many different predators, parasitoids, and pollinators we’ve found in those samples,” says Vankosky. “Very slowly, we are working to identify those insects at a species level, so we have a better idea of what the community structure of beneficial insects is in canola fields.”

Find out more about the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network, their cool work counting insects, and much more in this conversation between Meghan Vankosky and RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney, below:

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