The Agronomists, Ep 67: John Gavloski and Scott Meers talk wireworms, flea beetles, & cutworms


On this episode of The Agronomists we’ve brought in two guests who know all there is to know about the pesky pests that seem to inevitably find their way into your crops. We are talking about the infamous wireworm, flea beetles that can wreak havoc on canola crops, and cutworms that, let’s face it, are hard to find and even get rid of as their behaviour can vary greatly depending on the species.

The Agronomists host, Lyndsey Smith, is joined by John Gavloski, a long-time extension entomologist with Manitoba Agriculture, and Scott Meers, an insect management specialist and an agrologist at Mayland Consulting. Together they will be breaking down the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to these pests and specifically, what you need to know about them when it comes to spring and early crops – with a positive reminder thrown in the mix as well.

Keeping in mind that you don’t always need to look specifically for the insect causing the problems, but that finding the damage done is reason enough to take action, the trio will dissect what it is you should be looking for, when to look for it, and what you can do about it to help save your crop from these destructive insects.


  • With John being in Manitoba and Scott in Alberta, there’s no getting around talking about the extreme moisture differences that each province is facing right now. John and Scott let us know however, if conditions are improving
  • What impact does all the moisture in Manitoba have on the pest population?
  • Spoiler – it doesn’t necessarily mean fewer grasshoppers for that area
  • It’s dry in Alberta but not so dry that seeds aren’t germinating
  • Which of course, signals in the wireworms
  • For those seeding into fairly dry and cool ground, your seed is likely safe from pests, for now
  • Correctly identifying wireworms – what are they commonly confused for
  • There’s a whopping 385 species of wireworms in Canada
  • Looking for flea beetle damage in your crop
  • The differences of flea beetles – crucifer vs. striped
  • What time of year is each most prevalent
  • Where will you likely find the most damage on your plants –
  • At what percentage of damage do you need to think seriously about ridding your crop of them
  • John reminds us that flea beetles aren’t the villain in every crop
  • Scott says they’ve found another species of flea beetle in Alberta
  • Lyndsey correctly identifies cutworms as being gross and John and Scott take it one.. or two, steps further breaking down different species of the pests
  • These guys are a toughy, they’re hard to find,  hard to anticipate and forecast for
  • So what do you do? What are your control options? Insecticides?
  • Depends on the species, and like wireworms, there is a lot of them
  • Soil moisture is the determining factor on how far into the soil cutworms call home
  • They do like to lay eggs in green material but time of year seems to play a more vital role on when they lay their eggs, rather than where and in what
  • It may take two or three passes of insecticide to get them all as kill rate is dependant on insect stage
  • Finally, what has Mother Nature created that kills these things? Who are their predators

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