Tracking the movement of flea beetles across the Canadian Prairies

Key Result

This project is still in progress, but aims to inform modeling and forecasting of flea beetle movement on the Prairies at different geographic scales through a flea beetle survey and to conduct a field-level study to determine if flea beetles associated with non-crop hosts contribute to populations in adjacent commercial canola crops.

Project Summary

Most canola on the Prairies is grown from neonicotinoid-treated seed to manage crucifer and striped flea beetle pests. Striped flea beetles are less susceptible to the neonicotinoids than crucifer flea beetles, and they differ in their cold tolerance and flight ability. The research team’s recent research suggests potential regional variations in flea beetle susceptibility to seed treatments, which may affect their overall distribution across the Prairies and have implications for management.

The movement of flea beetles from non-crop habitat (e.g. field margins) to canola can also impact management. Flea beetles reproducing outside canola escape insecticide selection pressure. Given their small size, differences in various physiological, behavioral, and susceptibility to insecticides, and potential differences in movement between non-crop and crop hosts, knowledge of the movements of these pests would be beneficial for management, including modelling and forecasting.

Leveraging samples collected as part of the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network (PPMN), this study will survey beetles across the Prairie provinces, assess species composition, and employ genome-wide population structure analyses to infer their movement and dispersal ability between regions and host plants. This study aims to assess if vast acres of canola have increased selection pressure on insecticide susceptibility beetles and if non-crop hosts influence insecticide resistance management. It will investigate if the putative regional differences in susceptibility levels to seed treatments can spread. Ultimately, the findings will inform modeling and forecasting of flea beetle movement on the Prairies at different geographic scales.

The knowledge of movement of flea beetles gained from this research will ultimately allow farmers and agronomists to consider potential resistance management strategies and may help to enhance predictive modelling and forecasting of flea beetle populations.