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Production of a field guide on pest and beneficial insects of field crops in Western Canada

Project code: PRR13-040

Project Lead

Erl Svendsen and Owen Olfert - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada


To develop an in-field decision support tool for identification of economically harmful and beneficial insects and mites of field crops in the Prairie eco-region

Summary of Results


Accurate identification of pests is essential to make timely and effective pest management decisions. Recognizing associated natural enemies and other beneficial insect species in crops is also important because their presence may reduce pest populations to the point where chemical control is minimized or not required. Thus far, the only comprehensive management tool available to Canadian Prairie field crop and forage producers for pest identification, biology and control information has been the Insect Pests of the Prairies, published in 1989. New information generated over the last 25 years about emerging pests and novel pest management technologies, including new biocontrol approaches, needed to be captured and made available for use by growers.

The goal of this project was to meet this need by creating a user-friendly field guide to be used as an up-to-date decision support tool for sustainable pest management in Prairie field crops. The development of the field guide was identified as a priority solution for support within the “Reduced-Risk Strategy for Foliar Insect Pests of Field Crops”.


A team of about 15 subject matter experts was assembled to collaborate on putting together the new field guide. The team consisted of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), provincial (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba), university and private entomologists, each of whom had significant experience in research or agricultural extension. Their key roles were to contribute content and illustrations for the guide and to review the drafts. In addition, a number of partner commodity associations and agri-business organisations were engaged to ensure efficient collaboration and knowledge transfer opportunities with key players across various stakeholders groups and sectors.

Hugh Philip, co-author of the previous publication Insect Pests of the Prairie Provinces (1989), was contracted to write the text and assemble the associated images. With over 35 years of experience in the field of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Hugh used many sources of information including extensive personal expertise, existing field guides from other regions, academic scientific publications and consultations with technical experts.

The guide builds on the premise that inclusion of biological and other non-chemical approaches to pest management programs can help minimize losses due to pest damage while reducing the risk from pesticides to pollinators, parasitoids, predators and other important beneficial organisms present in the crops.


This project, through extensive collaboration among many experts, gave rise to a new illustrated field guide Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada: Identification and Management Field Guide. The guide is now available in hardcopy, electronically (USB card) and on-line through the Government of Canada Publications.

This 152-page full-colour publication, available in English or French, consolidates up-to-date information about the hosts, identification characteristics, life cycle, crop damage, monitoring and scouting techniques, economic thresholds, and management options for about 90 economically important crop and forage insect and mite pests in Western Canada. It also features similar information about 30 species of natural enemies found in these regions that prey on or parasitize these pests.

Recognizing, conserving and fostering populations of natural enemies can enhance their role in reducing pest populations below economic levels, thus reducing the need for pesticide sprays.

Growers, pest management practitioners, field crop scouts, extension specialists, educators, crop advisors and other agriculture service providers can use this guide as a tool to make informed pest management decisions and support implementation of IPM in field crop and forage production. It is anticipated that the widespread use of this field guide will encourage judicious, science-based decisions about when and where a pesticide spray application is warranted, and enhance the efficacy of IPM programs through supporting area-wide pest monitoring in Western Canada.

For more information, please contact Erl Svendsen.

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