Friday, 2 August 2019

Wheat midge (August 1, 2019; Wk 17)

Wheat Midge (Sitodiplosis mosellana– Reminder - Based on fall surveys in 2018, wheat midge populations were expected to be low across most of AB and SK this season.  Dry conditions in May and June have resulted in reduced emergence of adult populations across most of SK. 

Review last week's predictive model update (Wk 16) regarding the development for this pest.  This week, the percent of adult emergence is depicted across the Canadian prairies as of July 28, 2019 (Fig. 1). The map below predicts the geographic distribution and corresponding accumulation of heat units necessary for wheat midge to emerge from puparia developing in the soil.  Midge emergence is 100% complete in areas highlighted red, 90% complete in areas highlighted orange, and ≤50% in areas highlighted light orange or yellow (Fig. 1).

Figure 1.  Accumulation of heat units necessary for wheat midge  (Sitodiplosis mosellana) to emerge from puparia in the soil and corresponding estimated percent of midge emerged across the Canadian prairies as of July 28, 2019.

When monitoring wheat fields, pay attention to the synchrony between flying midge and anthesis.  

In-field monitoring for wheat midge should be carried out in the evening (preferably after 8:30 pm or later) when the female midges are most active. On warm (at least 15ºC), calm evenings, the midge can be observed in the field, laying their eggs on the wheat heads (photographed by AAFC-Beav-S. Dufton & A. Jorgensen below). Midge populations can be estimated by counting the number of adults present on 4 or 5 wheat heads. Inspect the field daily in at least 3 or 4 locations during the evening.

REMEMBER that in-field counts of wheat midge per head remain the basis of economic threshold decision.  Also remember that the parasitoid, Macroglenes penetrans (photographed by AAFC-Beav-S. Dufton below), is actively searching for wheat midge at the same time.  Preserve this parasitoid whenever possible and remember your insecticide control options for wheat midge also kill these beneficial insects which help reduce midge populations.

Economic Thresholds for Wheat Midge:
a) To maintain optimum grade: 1 adult midge per 8 to 10 wheat heads during the susceptible stage.
b) For yield only: 1 adult midge per 4 to 5 heads. At this level of infestation, wheat yields will be reduced by approximately 15% if the midge is not controlled.

Inspect the developing kernels for the presence of larvae and the larval damage. 

Wheat midge and its doppelganger, the lauxanid fly, were featured as the Insect of the Week (for Wk10).  Check that post for help with in-field scouting for this economic pest of wheat!  The differences between midges and parasitoid wasps are featured as the current Insect of the Week (for Wk11).  Not all flying insects are mosquitoes nor are they pests - many are important parasitoid wasps that actually regulate insect pest species in our field crops.

Information related to wheat midge biology and monitoring can be accessed by linking to your provincial fact sheet (Saskatchewan Agriculture or Alberta Agriculture & Forestry).  A review of wheat midge on the Canadian prairies was published by Elliott, Olfert, and Hartley in 2011.  

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has a YouTube video describing in-field monitoring for wheat midge.  

More information about Wheat midge can be found by accessing the pages from the new "Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Field Guide".  View ONLY the Wheat midge pages but remember the guide is available as a free downloadable document as both an English-enhanced or French-enhanced version.