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Home > Alberta's Resource Inventory > Soil and Agriculture > Agents of Change > Pesticides > Insecticides

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Insecticides

Farms near VermillionInsecticides are used to control insect pests, such as weevils, bertha army worm, cutworm, diamond-back moth larvae, and grasshoppers. These insects have natural regulators, such as weather, parasites, predators and disease. But when these regulators fail to control populations, the economic impact of insect pests can be significant. Chemical insecticides can give the needed additional population control.

Insect infestations do not occur every year and they are often limited in the areas affected. As a result, Alberta farmers use much less insecticide than herbicide. A 1996 census indicated that only 3.7 percent of farms applied insecticide to 300,000 hectares.

Two important insect pests that are responsible for widespread damage and economic loss are the bertha army worm and the grasshopper. Infestations of bertha army worms may be localized or spread over hundreds of thousands of hectares of canola, and their populations fluctuate widely from year to year. Grasshoppers are mainly grass eaters, so their damage is confined primarily to cereal crops, especially wheat and barley. Grasshopper infestations usually peak in drought years.

Department of the Environment. State of the Environment Report, Terrestrial Ecosystems. Edmonton: n.p., 2001. With permission from Alberta Environment.

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