Alfalfa weevil (Hypera postica) is the most problematic pest in Wyoming alfalfa fields. One of the reasons this pest is so tricky for producers to manage, is because infestations can be highly variable and difficult to predict. They can be very problematic in some years and fields, and not at all in others. As a result, producers have the difficult task of deciding if, how, and when to manage for weevil. Continue reading
Incorporating flowers in agricultural landscapes has been an area of increasing interest recently. As scientists and farmers try to find new ways to make food production more sustainable, an emergent idea has been to increase the functions (See Farm Meets Function for some WY examples!) that agricultural lands provide. One way to do this is to add diversity to the types of habitats found on agricultural lands. Continue reading
Hello again! Jemma here. Looking back I have done more than I could ever imagine I would do this summer. I transcribed interviews, reared weevils, sweep sampled many fields, entered/checked data, sat in on farmer interviews, drove to Lingle and Powell, sorted insects, counted thousands upon thousands of insects, planted/transplanted and watered flowers, weeded the flowers, counted blooms and I even used Instagram. Now it may be that strolling through alfalfa fields, picking through frozen insects and alfalfa and attempting to capture live weevil larvae and lygus nymphs with out losing your cool isn’t ones idea of how they would want to spend the summer- but I’m so glad that this is how I got to spend mine. Continue reading
Randa here! I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts from my group this summer. It’s taken me a while, but I’m finally back to add my 2 cents. A few weeks ago, Jemma shared her weevil dreams with you all. I asked her to title it “Part 1” because I knew I had more to add on this topic. I’ve dreamt of my work for as long as I can remember. The different stages of my academic career are defined by whether Collembola were floating by when I closed my eyelids or whether it was squirming Colorado Potato Beetle. So, it came as no surprise when my interns shyly mentioned that they’d been dreaming of alfalfa weevil. Continue reading
Allison speaking. The relationship between aphids and parasitoid wasps has been of a lot of interest to us here, as the wasps that kill weevils by using them as hosts for their young to eat (from the inside out!) may benefit from having aphids around for the honeydew they provide. It can be an important sugary food source to many bees, ants and wasps in the order Hymenoptera. Another hypothesis we have is that flower nectar may also play an important role in a parasitic wasp’s diet. But how important to successful weevil parasitism is wasp nutrition? Would the size of aphid populations have any effect on the size of weevil populations through this indirect relationship?
Besides alfalfa weevil, alfalfa producers deal with a number of other pest insects like lygus (stay tuned for more on these critters!) and aphids. In focus groups conducted with Wyoming alfalfa growers over the past two years, it became clear that there was some confusion about what sort of damage aphids can cause to alfalfa, the types of aphids found in WY alfalfa fields, and how to manage them.
As a result we decided to put together a fact sheet with some information about aphids in alfalfa. Continue reading
Jemma here! So picture this. You’ve just started a summer internship and everything is going well. You get back from a long day of collecting and looking through samples of insects and the only thing on your mind is sweet, blissful sleep. So you start to wind down, maybe watch an episode or two of your favorite show on Netflix, jump in the shower, throw on some comfy pajamas, brush your teeth and then you finally get into bed. Now that you finally have the chance to relax you start to give in to the welcoming arms of sleep and close your eyes……..and all you see are weevils! Your eyelids become the backdrop to a sea of green worm like creatures wiggling around in your mind and despite your best efforts you can’t find the pause button to this haunting showing of insects.
After 6.5 hours driving the desolate highways of Wyoming, zig-zagging through dramatically changing landscapes, passing what seems like hundreds of semi-trucks, and persevering through the limited number of rest stops along the way, we finally pull into tourist laden Cody, Wyoming. Albeit beautiful, this time of year Cody is a widely sought after destination for cross-country road trips and a reasonable stop for families visiting Yellowstone National Park. As we begin to unload our field gear into our hotel room, smiling and saying hello to our hotel neighbors, I think to myself- the experience we are about to have in the Big Horn Basin is wildly different than that of all the traveling families sharing this hotel roof. Continue reading
Alanna Speaking. I have a confession to make. When I read a scientific paper, I (almost always) skip the “Methods” section. Those seven letters are a signal to flip the page, an introduction to the driest, least impactful part of the paper, necessary to writers and publishers, but certainly not to me.
During the week we spent sampling in the Bighorn Basin, Zoe and I found ourselves transported into Methods. Every decision we made, every stroke of the sweep net, photograph and weather call had the potential to affect the results. Continue reading
Field work dispatch from Randa: Yay! After 10 days of checking the weather, constructing degree day maps to model the development of our main pest of interest (the alfalfa weevil), and making plans and changing them over and over again, we finally made it out to the field. Our timing for insect sampling was perfect – just at the start of weevil third-instars in the field. Continue reading