Mosquitos, grasshoppers and wasps: How this summer's insect numbers compare to past years
Parts of Saskatchewan are seeing an increase in some insects this summer compared to the average.
The City of Regina said the number of mosquitos is up significantly compared to what it normally records around this time of year.
“We are averaging 167 mosquitos per trap per night right now,” Russell Eirich, the manager of open space services for the City of Regina, said.
“Our average is about 43 mosquitos per night, so we’re significantly higher.”
Because of the weather this summer, Eirich said it’s not surprising to see an increase.
“We’ve had a fair bit of rain throughout the later period of July and we’re seeing some overnight rainstorms move through into early August,” he said.
In 2019, the city said it was averaging about 350 mosquitos per trap.
The record high mosquito count was 1,719 mosquitos per trap in 1993.
“So it’s 10 per cent of what it could be in terms of how bad it could be,” Eirich said.
Mosquito numbers are expected to trend down in the coming weeks, with this likely being the peak of the season.
City crews are routinely conducting mosquito control. There are twelve traps throughout the city in six different zones.
Residents can help control the mosquito population by removing any standing water from their property, which is where mosquitos lay their eggs.
Wasps are also monitored by the city, but Eirich said those numbers are average this year.
“In terms of overall counts or populations or how we measure it with regards to service requests, there just hasn’t been much yet,” he said.
“They will actually increase more in activity as we get closer to Labour Day and then they’ll peak right up until that killing frost comes,” Eirich said.
GRASSHOPPER NUMBERS JUMPING
Certain parts of Saskatchewan are seeing a major uptick in grasshoppers this year.
James Tansey, the insect pest management specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture, said there are pressures throughout the province, but the problems are primarily in the south central and south west regions.
He said there are a number of different factors causing this year’s spike.
“Primarily, the weather last year. That was the big factor contributing to this year’s populations,” he said. “We had very hot, dry weather.”
Tansey said grasshopper populations are limited by natural enemies including fungi, which grow in moist conditions.
“We didn’t have that last year so we didn’t have a lot of those fungal infections reducing populations,” he said.
Warm weather early in spring allowed nymphs to progress to adulthood quicker, contributing to the next generation of grasshoppers and overall populations.
For some farmers, grasshoppers have posed major problems.
Todd Lewis, the former president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) who also farms south of Regina, said the bugs have caused significant issues to crops in the areas where it’s been dry.
“There are areas of the province where grasshoppers have flown in and cleaned off entire pastures,” Lewis said.
“Some pastures that have already been stressed because of lack of moisture, and what little bit of green there is in new growth, grasshoppers have eaten it right down to ground level.”
Lewis said grasshoppers are also affecting harvest for some farmers.
“You can end up having large numbers of grasshoppers or grasshopper material in your combine tank. In many cases, those hoppers are still alive and moving and with high moisture content, it’s very difficult to store that product,” Lewis said.
“In some cases, you just have to let the grasshoppers have the crop and move on to next year.”
The Ministry of Agriculture said most strategies to eliminate or manage grasshoppers at this time of year involve chemical control.
Lewis said there has been more spraying this year compared to a normal year, adding ultimately it will be winter that will reduce the large population.
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