Home Crop Monitoring Pests & Predators, Ep 7: Powerful parasitoids — better than fiction

Pests & Predators, Ep 7: Powerful parasitoids — better than fiction


Wheat head armyworm doesn’t solely have an effect on wheat; it may additionally have an effect on barley, rye, oats, native and forage grasses like timothy, and even will get into wild oats — it’s acquired a large host vary to say the least.

The affect of wheat head armyworm isn’t nicely documented, and a part of the issue with researching them is that they’re onerous to search out; they pop up the place you don’t anticipate them, says Tyler Wist, entomologist with AAFC Saskatoon. The analysis {dollars} get allotted, however you’ll be able to’t get wheat head armyworm right into a colony to check them.

The widespread identify armyworm will be confused with all the opposite varieties of armyworms on the market (which is why we depend on the latin names of bugs to correctly establish them) however Wist says that the most effective to establish them is by state of affairs.

“If you’re in a wheat field and you’ve got a kind of tan coloured caterpillar sitting on your wheat heads, it’s pretty likely that it’s a wheat head armyworm, because it’s in wheat and it’s sitting on the head of the wheat,” says Wist. Not a number of different caterpillars would sit up excessive on the wheat head like that.

Try the video for the total dialog, story continues under:

As for what predates on wheat head armyworm? Wist says that in some earlier analysis by Dan Johnson, who’s now at College of Lethbridge, a cotton-ball trying cluster of pupae on the heads and awns of wheat and barley have been recognized. These pupae have been recognized because the genus Cotesia, with a couple of completely different species, and what’s actually attention-grabbing about these species, is that they’re sometimes solely feminine.

“Every single one of those insects that come out of the pupae is ready to go out and find another host, so another caterpillar host to sting and lay and egg into,” says Wist. The only egg that’s laid into the caterpillar physique, splits into 20 to 30 little genetically similar larvae that hold round for some time, then chew threw the physique of the wheat head armyworm caterpillar physique, and emerge en masse.

It appears like one thing from a horror movie (Alien franchise, anybody?) however, hey, nature is a superb place for sci-fi inspiration. In brief, Wist says that wheat head armyworm could be saved in verify successfully by the as-of-yet unidentified Cotesia species offspring.

Wist’s primary suggestion for safeguarding these parasitoids that management wheat head armyworm? Be sure to’re at financial threshold earlier than taking any in-field motion to regulate the armyworm, and the Cotesia species will care for the difficulty.

Wist concludes that though the connection appears promising, extra analysis will must be executed.


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