Wheat midge is one of the top three most damaging insect pests for wheat crops in the prairies.

Dr.Tyler Wist is a field crop entamologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon.

During this week's "Think Wheat" meetings he talked about the Midge Busters phermone trap monitoring project.

Producers and agronomists that volunteer for the program are given a phermone trap to put out in the wheat field, they then count the wheat midge on their traps bi-weekly.

Wist says they're partnering with Secan giving phermone traps to growers that volunteer to be a part of the program.

"It is a trap that smells like a female wheat Midge, so it's like catnip for male wheat midge. We're using that to try to track the numbers of wheat Midge in people's field, and also, when those wheat Midge emerge."

The #MidgeBusters website cautions that the pheromone traps are not used to take insecticidal action against wheat midge as it is the male wheat midge that are caught on these traps.

It notes that the traps are a tool to look for timing of emergence to then trigger an evening trip to the field to survey for the presence of wheat midge females on heads - two to three days after the males were first caught on traps.

Wist notes if they get enough traps out there, then they can compare the results to the provincial wheat midge forecast maps.

Saskatchewan and Alberta produce wheat midge forecast maps by taking soil cores in the fall looking at the overwintering cocoons of wheat midge.

Based on that information mappers and modellers identify areas where wheat midge could be a problem in the next year.

The maps are available each winter at prairiepest.ca.

He says with the #MidgeBusters program they're looking at the actual emergence of the wheat midge in the field.

"So, what I'm finding is that if we have the perfect conditions for wheat Midge, like we get enough of those spring rains, then the wheat Midge come out of the ground. But if they're forecasted to be there in the field, and we don't get those spring rains, they don't come out. They just sit in your field like a ticking time bomb, waiting until conditions are perfect."

Wist is also working on finding a way to pyramid protection for wheat against wheat midge.

While provincial forecast maps are a good indicator of what’s to come, weather and timely spring rains of at least 25 mm ultimately determine the timing and severity of a wheat midge infestation.

Research shows that growers should monitor fields for midge as wheat heads emerge in late June and early July. 

Female midge lay eggs on the developing wheat heads and seem to be most active on warm, calm evenings.

If you would like to take part in the #MidgeBusters 2023 program, you can email tyler.wist@agr.gc.ca.