Over­win­tered canola and ground bee­tles can cause a lot of is­sues this time of year

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - NEWS - Al­berta Agri­cul­ture

Some Al­berta pro­duc­ers may be see­ing large num­bers of bee­tles while com­bin­ing canola fields this spring.

Re­searchers would like to con­nect with farm­ers who are find­ing large num­bers of ground bee­tles while com­bin­ing their over­win­tered canola fields. One such re­port has been re­ceived from a lo­ca­tion north of Ed­mon­ton, and more are likely. The bee­tles are black and 6 to 9 mm in length.

Kevin Floate is a re­search sci­en­tist with Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Canada in Leth­bridge, and he says that this out­break is sim­i­lar to some out­breaks re­ported in 2010.

In that year, unusu­ally large num­bers of ground bee­tles were re­ported on a farm near Pickardvil­le. Unusu­ally high pop­u­la­tions of these bee­tles were also re­ported across a large area that in­cluded sites near Cam­rose, Fal­her, High Prairie, Ve­gre­ville and We­taski­win.

Re­searchers con­cluded that unusu­ally cool sum­mer tem­per­a­tures along with the late har­vest in 2009 – also de­layed by snow – likely left an abun­dance of canola seed on the soil. That abun­dant food sup­ply al­lowed a larger than nor­mal num­ber of adults to sur­vive and emerge in the spring of 2010.

Those bee­tles then moved into sur­round­ing fields in search of food. They found that the bee­tles’ num­bers re­turned to nor­mal lev­els in 2011.

“Given the large num­bers of un­har­vested acres of canola last fall,” he says, “I thought con­di­tions might be ripe for such out­breaks this spring.”

Floate em­pha­sises that these bee­tles are not pest in­sects. They are ben­e­fi­cials, and farm­ers should not spray them.

Adults feed on the seeds of weeds and other plants ly­ing on the ground, and their lar­vae eat other in­sects in­clud­ing pest species. Eggs laid in the soil over the next few weeks will pro­duce more adults later this sum­mer and pos­si­bly more re­ports of out­breaks. Be­sides the con­tact in­for­ma­tion of farm­ers find­ing these bee­tles, Floate is look­ing for:

• a few dozen bee­tles per lo­ca­tion to de­ter­mine species com­po­si­tion;

• crop­ping his­tory of the field go­ing back at least two years;

• scope of the out­break – af­fected acres

• quan­tifi­ca­tion of bee­tles num­bers, such as high-res­o­lu­tion pho­tos or a gues­ti­mate of the num­ber in a square me­tre.

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