Integrated approaches for flea beetle control – Economic thresholds, prediction models, landscape effects, and natural enemies

Agronomy Research  Insects 
Start Date
End Date
Principal Investigator
Alejandro Costamagna - University of Manitoba
Barb Sharanowski - University of Central Florida; John Gavlovski - Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development; Rishi Burlakoti and Andy Nadler - Weather Innovations; Hector Carcamo - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Lethbridge; Jennifer Otani - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Beaverlodge; Tyler Wist - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon
MCGA Funding
Total Project Funding
External Funding Partners
Alberta Canola, SaskCanola, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Research Objective

  • To determine economic threshold for flea beetles
  • Determine effective natural enemies of flea beetle populations
  • Identify landscape features that promote effective natural enemies and that would decrease flea beetle infestations
  • Develop models to predict flea beetle emergence and their seasonal activity

Project Description

Flea beetles are very damaging to canola yield, and can cause losses of up to $300 million CAN a year. They are a chronic pest that is currently controlled by insecticide applications. The aim of this study was to identify integrated pest management practices that could be used for the current high-yielding canola cultivars. The management practices were studied across four ecoregions in a collaborative effort, using 41 field trials over three growing seasons. Associations between landscape structure and flea beetle populations were found, and effective natural enemies of the most prominent flea beetle species were found. 25% defoliation of the canola crop was found to decrease flea beetle populations as part of an integrated pest management plan. As well, the effect of weather on flea beetle abundance, and associations between plant density and plant damage were found in relation to flea beetle abundance. This research is important for further study of decreasing the chronic flea beetle threat using integrated pest management, and to improve flea beetle monitoring.

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