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Insects being seen this spring

Jun 17, 2014 10:15 am | Janice Huser

The wet weather being seen this spring has held up local farmers, as some continue pushing to complete seeding crops.

Weve had quite a run of wet weather, says Dennis Bergheim, agricultural fieldman with the County of St. Paul. He says he personally hasnt seen it this wet in a very long time.

Its really kind of affected the overall spring seeding, says Bergheim, adding, normally most farmers are done by this time and are moving on to spraying for pests.

Spraying for weeds will also prove to be challenging this season for some farmers since it will be hard for them to access the fields, because of the rain.

Its just part of farming life, says Bergheim. One of the benefits of a wet spring is that it should lower the number of grasshoppers this year, since cool, wet conditions arent favourable to the insects hatching.

It wont be known for sure what the grasshopper situation will be for a few more weeks, but Bergheim predicts because of the weather, the population levels would be on the lower end.

Scott Meers, an insect management specialist with Alberta Agriculture has been out in the field this spring, watching for possible problems. He says he has heard of some producers running into flea beetles on seedling canola.

Its a little bit more this year than previous years, he says.

As for grasshoppers, Meers says he hasnt heard too much about the insects yet.

Wet weather is extremely hard on baby grasshoppers, he says, adding, the weather sometimes reduces the risk, but not always.

Bertha Army Worms have also been a problem in the area in the past, and traps to gauge the insects this year went up last week. Traps will be set for six weeks, then specialists will better know what to expect.

Meers says its a good time of the year for producers to scout for possible problems in their crops and look for things such as wireworms or cutworms. Farmers should investigate any bare patches in their crops and investigate why those patches are there, he says.

Another insect being seen in the area this year are tent caterpillars. Although the caterpillars arent a worry for producers, they can lead to a lot of destruction on trees in urban and rural settings.

The M.D. of Bonnyville released a statement on June 6 confirming the insects in that area, and sightings of the bugs have been seen around St. Paul.

Our weed inspectors have found a few infested trees around the M.D. and area, said Janice Boden, an assistant agricultural fieldman with the M.D., in the information released. The type of caterpillar seen in the Bonnyville area is the forest variety.

Tent caterpillars rarely kill the infested tree, but they often do eat all of the leaves off of it, which can open up the tree to other diseases, according to the M.D. Boden recommends people use non-chemical methods to deal with the caterpillars.

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