Earlier this spring Manitoba Agriculture hosted a series of regional Crop Days across the province, and one of the topics under discussion was which insects to watch for during the 2024 growing season.  

Applied Research Specialist with Manitoba Ag, Scott Chalmers, facilitated the April 2nd forum in Melita where MB Ag Entomologist, John Gavloski, spoke on exactly this topic.

"At that meeting he talked about all the culprits that are always nagging us, like the grasshoppers and the crucifer flea beetles," explains Chalmers. "I have seen one flea beetle on some clothing but they're hard to spot because they're so jumpy.  I suspect they're coming out of their hibernation as adults and looking to start their breeding process."

Chalmers says the flea beetles will be feeding on volunteer canola now in this early stage of mobility.  "So, they'll be looking for canola that is either volunteer or planted."

He says it's always great to get the crop in early, however with canola it pays to hold off due to these flea beetles but also the threat of frost still remains as it is still early in the season.

"When it does turn hot those flea beetles will quickly jump on those plants when they're small and vulnerable," says Chalmers. "So, maybe wait a bit and get your wheat done, your barley, your peas. Those kinds of crops can go in nice and early but wait a bit for the canola."

"Sometimes it's a chase to try and get moisture early to try and get those plants going because you never know if it's going to turn dry after the long weekend, and you can be stranded, and sometimes the plants perish from drought, and we've seen that out here for sure."

When it comes to grasshoppers, Chalmers says he's only seen last year's carcasses at this point, but that doesn't mean there aren't any as they will be in their egg form waiting to hatch in early June.

"So, this is something to scout for once we get the crops established," he says. "So, we'll be looking for those early nymphs.  The clear-winged grasshopper prefers to feed on cereals so that one, if it's in a broad leaf situation it's not going to hurt you. But if it's on your cereals it will.  And so, it's good to know who they are and what to look for."

Please listen to more with Scott Chalmers below as he talks about this most recent rain!

Photo credit John Gavloski, MB Agriculture