The Agronomists, Ep 30: Steph Berlett and Jennifer Otani on insect invasions


Surprise! Shaun Haney is hosting this episode after Lyndsey’s internet decided to give up the ghost.

On this episode of The Agronomists, Haney is joined by Steph Berlett with Brussels Agromart, Ont., and Jennifer Otani with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Beaverlodge, Alta., to talk about current insect issues, integrated pest management, scouting tips, and the worst pests ever.

Catch a new episode of The Agronomists every Monday night at 8 pm E!


  • How much does environment allow for us to predict insect populations? Temperature and moisture are important
  • Prairie Pest Monitoring Network (PPMN) outputs are saying some insects are a little quicker to appear, and progressing faster
  • Same thing in Ontario? Quite dry up until some recent rainfalls, dry pockets still exist.
  • Monitoring is so important, on a large scale
  • Ontario tracks storms up from the states, too, as so many blow in on those storms
  • Time of day can really matter
  • Which is the worst crop to scout? Probably super thick, rubbery canola
  • Measuring or counting insects, or are you looking at damage or defoliation
  • Not all stages of insect does damage — it’s really important to know which insect, which stage, on which crop, at what level
  • Thresholds! And predictions on how to manage
  • Clip #1: Soybean School, Tracey Baute and aphids
  • Some reports of aphid invasions in Ontario already, for sure
  • Humans tend to overestimate defoliation and it can really spur spraying, but not always warranted
  • The Aphid App accounts for lady bugs (and other beneficials)
  • Ladybugs are the tip off to find aphids…they are easier to see, too
  • Do wireworms have a predator/parasitoid that attacks it? Likely, yes, you’re not on your own, but it’s a complex pest
  • There is a tremendous amount of work going in to wireworm mapping, trapping, and more
  • Go looking for cutworms and you’ll find so many other insects — including some larvae that aren’t crop pests but pests of other plants
  • Field Heroes! Remember that not everything you sweep into the net is a pest. There are pollinators, predators, and parasitoids
  • As new varieties come on line, as weather warms, as rotations change, new pests may show up or pests may get worse
  • Does an insect attack nod to some other possible problem? Natural cycles will have an impact, but a sickly or poorly nourished plant is an easier target
  • Hot, dry weather means plants are stressed, too, and that means they might be more attractive to insects and more susceptible
  • Scout for aphid all the time, but target those reproductive stages, for sure, all the way to early podding
  • Once we start the insect scouting, you have to keep tracking them — it makes agronomists tired
  • What insect would 2″ of rain help? Flea beetle on canola, but not grasshoppers, unfortunately
  • Some pockets of wheat midge causing issues in areas with ideal precipitation and ideal temps for midge development
  • What are the best tools to use? Predictive modelling, forecasts, apps!, visuals are important. Use photos, agronomists, colleagues
  • Clip #2: John Gavloski and diamond back moth and green worms
  • Winter canola is expanding in southern areas of the province for sure
  • Sweep nets through the beans, alfalfa and more
  • Traps for Western bean cutworm, and corn rootworm, find where they are
  • Not every insect is a pest, repeat it.
  • Train yourself to identify the beneficials
  • Clip #3: Western bean cutworm, Tracey Baute
  • Finding those egg masses gives many agronomists nightmares
  • What about spider mites? Tougher one, for sure
  • “Never trust a pale agronomist”
  • Insecticide resistance should be on the radar, too

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Subscribe to our daily newsletters to keep you up-to-date with our latest coverage every morning.

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Other Episodes

The Agronomists (view all)Season 2 (2021) Episode 22

Please register to read and comment.


Register for a RealAgriculture account to manage your Shortcut menu instead of the default.