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Hot, dry weather sees increase in insect populations

Grasshoppers continue to be an issue for farmers as they bring in the harvest.

The Province's Insect Pest Management Specialist James Tansey says producers put down multiple sprays this year in an effort to try and control them.

"They really liked the warm, dry conditions that we've seen across much of the province. What's a bit of a downside to the continued activity and continued feeding of course is going to be the continued egg laying as these warm dry conditions continue."

On top of the crop damage the grasshoppers are now gumming up machines and slowing the harvest, the insect bits and pieces are also showing up in the crop samples which means an additional cost for farmers to clean the grain before delivery.

In reviewing the insect concerns for this year, he says, another key insect that caused a lot of damage for oilseed producers was flea beetles.

Tansey says they've been a significant problem throughout the province.

"We've also seen a couple of interesting things from flea beetles. With the warm dry conditions, the populations between the two species are influx. So, normally striped flea beetle is dominant to the north, crucifer flea beetle is dominant in the south. We've seen this shift of the striped flea beetles now more towards the south."

There were also early reports of heavy damage to seedlings from flea beetles even in yellow mustard this year, which is normally tolerant and resistant to the insect.

He says a number of areas also had issues with diamondback moths.

"With this warm, warm weather and dry weather, we saw an upregulation in their populations and requirements for control in some regions. For pulse growers, a real prevalent pest this year was pea aphid, this seemed to be relatively widely distributed and lots of accounts of spraying going down for that."

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