Volatile-based trapping and management of flea beetles

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SaskCanola summary

Key Result

This project is still in progress, but aims to examine the use of synthetic copies of plant and insect-produced volatile signals through field experiments to attract spring and fall populations of striped and crucifer flea beetles in both commercial and experimental trap types. This project will also aim to predict damage based on number of flea beetles captured, and assess the effect of new chemical tools for monitoring and eventual “attract-and-kill” formulations.

Project Summary

Flea beetles are an annual issue in canola grown on the Canadian Prairies. Development of a semiochemical-based system to monitor flea beetles could reduce time and effort spent monitoring in the field. If successful, farmers and agronomists could implement a semiochemical-based monitoring system across the Canadian Prairies for consistent comparisons and predictions of population density.

This research examines the use of synthetic copies of plant and insect-produced volatile signals (semiochemicals) as attractants to monitor and manage flea beetles on the Canadian Prairies.

Field experiments will compare commercially available lures that release the plant volatile, allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), to attract both spring and fall populations of striped (Phyllotreta striolatta) and crucifer (Phyllotreta cruciferae) flea beetles in a variety of commercially available trap types. The researchers will assess trap specificity through identification of the non-target arthropod bycatch in experimental traps. Then the research team will compare the number of flea beetles captured in semiochemical-baited traps to feeding damage at field sites to determine if trap capture can predict damage.

The project also aims to develop and test new semiochemical tools for monitoring and the researchers will assess the effect of semiochemical dose and lure longevity on the attractiveness and specificity of newly developed lures.

This project will be immediately beneficial to producers as this research compares commercially available attractants and traps. Following two field seasons of study, the research team will provide recommendations for the most effective trapping system that is already commercially available for immediate use. They will also provide information on the potential for trap capture to predict feeding damage and non-target bycatch encountered in monitoring traps.

This research will further lay the foundation for the development of semiochemical-based formulations that directly manage flea beetles through proof of concept of flea beetle attraction to a sprayable, attract-and-kill formulation.