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The Canadian Entomologist — Call for Special Issues

The Canadian Entomologist (TCE) regularly publishes special issues of manuscripts with a common theme that review or report significant findings of fundamental and (or) general entomological interest.

Submissions currently are being solicited for two upcoming special issues. The first of these will be published in 2017 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Biological Survey of Canada (http://biologicalsurvey.ca/). It will be on the theme of “Terrestrial Arthropod Diversity in Canada: Celebrating 40 years of the Biological Survey of Canada”. In this context, “terrestrial” is defined to include upland, wetland and aquatic systems. If you wish to contribute to this special issue, please contact Dr. David Langor (david.langor@canada.ca) by October 1st, 2016.

The second special issue will be published in 2018 to celebrate TCE’s 150th anniversary. It will include manuscripts that each will provide a historical overview on a different aspect of entomological research in Canada. The first six submissions accepted for publication will be given free access on TCE’s website. If you wish to contribute to this second special issue, please contact Dr. Kevin Floate (Kevin.Floate@agr.gc.ca) by December 1st, 2016.

Proposals for special issues can be submitted at any time to TCE’s Editor-in-Chief. Proposals will be reviewed for suitability by the Publications Committee of the Entomological Society of Canada. Manuscripts submitted as part of a special issue are subject to the regular peer review process. There are no page charges.

For more information on The Canadian Entomologist, please visit the journal’s website at:



Kevin Floate, Editor-in-Chief

The Canadian Entomologist

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Meet the new Editor-in-Chief of The Canadian Entomologist


My name is Kevin Floate.  Back in 1985, I became a member of the Entomological Society of Canada (ESC) and found it to be a warm and supportive organization.  I’ve since undertaken a number of roles, because I enjoy a challenge, but also because I believe that it is important to give back to the Society and the scientific discipline that has given so much to me during my career.  I have served on the Society’s Governing Board and I have Chaired the Publication Committee and what is now the Marketing and Fund-raising Committee.  I am a past-Editor of theESC Bulletin and have been a Subject Editor for The Canadian Entomologist (TCE) since 2002.  In September of last year, I embarked on my most challenging role thus far, that of Editor-in-Chief (EiC) for TCE.

I didn’t make the decision lightly.  The journal has been continuously published since 1868 under the capable hands of a long-chain of EiCs and I wanted to be sure that I could devote the time to do a credible job.  So for six months prior to saying ‘yes’, I job-shadowed the activities of the previous EiC, Chris Buddle.  It also helps that I ‘inherited’ a strong Editorial Board and a very competent Assistant Editor (Andrew Smith).  With their support, my first six months at the helm have been relatively smooth sailing.

So what exactly does it mean to be the EiC?  I’m coming to realize that it means several things.  First, I’m the gate-keeper.  TCE is an international journal that publishes on all aspects of entomology.  We only ask that submissions meet the journal’s publication policy and that they be written well-enough to permit a thorough scientific review.  I assess each new submission and reject those that don’t meet these criteria.  Second, I represent the Editorial Board, who help shape the journal’s publication policy and ensure that manuscripts are reviewed by qualified individuals in a timely manner.  I note that Board members (myself included) are all volunteers and receive no compensation for our efforts.  Third, and equally important, I represent the authors, who have taken the time to develop and complete a project, write up the results and submit their findings.  If we all do our jobs right, the outcome is a quality publication that enhances the entomological literature.  And finally, I am the public face of the journal… the bull’s eye at which authors can aim their emails.

Being EiC also means keeping up with changes in technology.  Consider that the very first article published in TCE is a report of a luminous larva authored by C.J.S. Bethune.  He would be amazed to learn that his article remains readily available 147 years later to journal subscribers across the world.  He would be even more astounded to learn of downloadable PDFs, the internet, computers, and open-access electronic journals (e-journals).  This latter topic is of particular interest to me, both as an author and as the EiC.  If you haven’t educated yourself on the potential pitfalls associated with some of these journals, I urge you to read Open access, predatory publishers, The Canadian Entomologist, and you (Bulletin of the ESC, vol. 45 (3): 131-137).  I co-authored this article as a way to understand why I was being inundated with spam emails from journals I’d never heard of, promising to quickly publish my next paper for a nominal fee.  As part of my on-going education as an EiC in this brave new world of publishing, I’ve also become a regular reader of Retraction Watch and Beall’s Blog.

With changes in technology, we also have improved our services for authors and subscribers.  In 2012, TCE entered into a partnership with Cambridge University Press (CUP).  CUP is the world’s oldest publishing house and, in keeping with the philosophy of the Society, is a not-for-profit organization.  This new partnership has allowed us to drop the requirement for page charges, and papers now appear online as ‘First View’ articles prior to hardcopy publication.  Last year, TCEadopted a hybrid open-access model to give authors the option of making their papers open-access upon payment of a one-time fee.  These changes have increased the number of manuscript submissions, which has allowed us to expand our published content by ten percent as of this year.  Quite frankly, I’d be swamped if it weren’t for the efforts of the Assistant Editor to ensure a high-quality standard of editing for all accepted manuscripts.

Another feature of the journal that is often overlooked is that we accept proposals for review articles, special issues and supplemental issues.  Special issues are papers with a common theme that appear in a regular issue of the journal.  Supplemental issues are issues that are in addition to the normal six per year.  This year is particularly exciting, because we have one of each.  A special issue on Emerald Ash Borer will appear in the June issue.  A supplemental issue on the history of forest entomology in Canada is being published later in 2015.  Be sure to keep an eye open for these issues, and send me an email if you want to discuss ideas for potential reviews, special issues or supplemental issues.

Other than EiC, what is it that I do as a researcher?  My graduate research encompassed pests of wheat in northern Saskatchewan and gall-forming insects in riparian forests of Utah and Arizona.  In 1993, I was hired by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to develop a biocontrol program for insect pests of livestock.  Although I’m still with AAFC, my current research has expanded to include insect-symbiont interactions, insect-parasitoid interactions, the ecology of cow dung communities, the non-target effects of chemical residues, and use of molecular methods to barcode insects or characterize their bacterial associates.  I worry a bit about being a “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none”, but this breadth of experience has served me well in dealing with the large variety of submissions to the journal.  Away from work and depending upon the season, you’ll find me hiking, curling, playing table tennis, reading, gardening and… of course… looking at bugs.

I’m getting more comfortable in my position as EiC, but I’m not complacent about the job.   It takes time to do it well and I promise to take that time to ensure your submissions are dealt with in a timely and respectful manner.  If I don’t, you know where to aim your emails.



Click here to read the first issue of 2015 for free.

This article originally appeared on the Cambridge Journals Blog.

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Citizen Science on a continental scale

The Editor’s pick from the Feburary issue of The Canadian Entomologist is Crowdsourcing for large-scale mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) sampling by Elin C. Maki and Lee W. Cohnstaedt. In this blog Lee Cohnstaedt reveals more about the research.


“We were inspired to carry out this study to find out the origin and historical geographic spread of the disease vector mosquito species Culex tarsalis and Aedes vexans. By collecting throughout the entire mosquito habitat range, we generated a snap-shot in time of the distribution of mosquito genes. However, collecting mosquitoes throughout the continental United States was not feasible for one lab. Therefore we used social networking and crowdsourcing to solicit specimens from public health officials, mosquito control experts, and citizen scientists. The response was incredible.

Image courtesy of Sarah Edwards.

Image courtesy of Sarah Edwards.

We hope a lasting impact of this project beyond advancing public health safety for humans and food security for agriculture, is demonstrating the importance and unique capabilities of the public health and mosquito control infrastructure in the United States. These agencies continually face budget cuts because their importance is undervalued. In addition to their public health roles, they contribute substantially to research which is an underappreciated role at improving public safety. This large-scale project would not be possible without the agencies volunteering their time, energy, and expertise. These agencies and individuals contributed to an unprecedented mosquito collection on a continental scale and we feel the North American Mosquito Project will continue to ask big questions with the help of network contributors in the future.

This research will lead to the mosquitos being used for three projects: First, the mosquito samples will be processed for population genetic and phylogenetic analysis to determine mosquito migration currently and historical spread. Second, the movement data from the genetics will be used to parameterize mathematical models to predict the spread of mosquito-borne exotic or emerging pathogens. This will improve public health safety and food security an important role of the agencies that contributed mosquitoes. Third, specific genes unique to certain populations (private alleles) will be examined to understand their role in range expansion.

Entomologists are very friendly people and we were amazed at how kind and helpful people were throughout the project. At least 25% of the network consisted of people we never contacted; other contributors contacted them and asked them to help. Similarly, some individuals collected from huge areas or contacted people to cover entire regions of the country. It makes us proud to be a part of the community and hopefully we can return the generosity with useful information.”

Read the full article here until 22nd May 2015.


Basing biosurveillance on good natural history: a case study of Crabronidae wasps and the emerald ash borer. TCE Editor’s Pick for 146(1)

Cerceris 560

New “field assistant”, getting its unique identifying paint job.

I’m pleased to announce the following Canadian Entomologist paper as this issue’s Editor’s Pick: The use of Cerceris fumipennis (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae) for surveying and monitoring emerald ash borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) infestations in eastern North America.

It was written by Philip Careless, Steve Marshall and Bruce Gill.

This link will be active and freely available for the next month, so do not worry about a paywall.

This research focuses on using natural history information to assess creative ways to monitor one of eastern North America’s most important invasive, exotic tree-feeding pests, the emerald ash borer (EAB).  The Crabronidae species Cerceris fumipennis is a wasp that is known to provision its nests with metallic wood-boring beetles in the family Buprestidae. Therefore, there is potentially to find out where EAB is located based on whether nests of the wasps contain that particular beetle. It’s a clever approach, and although the basic biology of the system was already known, Philip and colleagues worked to quantify and fully assess this potential biosurveillance tool for the EAB. We need to know where this pest is, and an indicator such as C. fumipennis holds much potential.

I caught up with Philip and he kindly answered a few questions about this work:

What inspired this work?

Almost all graduate work begins as a spark in the advisor’s mind.  Certainly this project came from the creative thinking of Dr. Stephen Marshall so he deserves credit for that.  I was simply fortunate enough to be the one chosen to run with the idea.  Though, more importantly, he and the rest of the advisory committee gave me enormous freedom to transform the question into a journey through the strange world of solitary wasps.  As for fueling the fire, I would say it was the writing of entomologists like Howard Evans, a healthy dose of nature documentaries, and correspondence with enthusiastic forest managers like Troy Kimoto who are struggling to address pressing conservation challenges.

What do you hope will be the lasting impact of this paper?

I hope that it will help people think of other novel ways to utilize the often overlooked services that insects all around them provide and in turn care for and conserve biodiversity.  In our case an insect that the public instinctively hates, fears, and kills has been transformed into an amazing, useful, and valued colleague.

Where will your next line of research on this topic take you?

We have over 370 nest-provisioning solitary wasps in Canada. Each species is eloquently designed to collect their specific preferred taxa – eg. Stictiella takes adult Lepidoptera, Isodontia takes Orthoptera, Crossocerus takes Psocoptera, etc.  The next steps will be to look at our native wasps, identify what they provision with and then determine if they are well-suited to life as a biosurveillance tool – assisting with life science inventories or monitoring pests.  As the prey choice of most solitary wasps is unknown, professionals and amateurs alike can assist by photographing provisioning wasps and uploading the images to bugguide.net or the like.

Do you have any interesting anecdotes about this research?

Sitting in the middle of a ball diamond under a beach umbrella with a butterfly net (watching wasps provision their nests) tends to draw a lot of curious looks and questions from passers by.  On one such occasion in Windsor, Ontario – while showing a dog walker my prized wasp bringing back a beetle – I observed a novel form of predation.  As the prey-laden female wasp diligently droned past us to the nest, the dog – previous quite bored – snapped it out of the air and ate it, prey and all!  We humans were both surprised but the dog seemed quite pleased.

Brenna 560

Brenna Wells hard at work, waiting to steal beetles from wasps.

For more information on this initiative, or even to get involved yourself, please visit the project website.

Dr. Christopher Buddle

Editor, the Canadian Entomologist


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When friends work together: The evolution of a review paper on the evolution of tree-killing in bark beetles. — TCE Editor’s Pick for 145(5)

By Dr. Chris Buddle, McGill University & Editor of The Canadian Entomologist


This Issue’s Editor’s pick for The Canadian Entomologist is Staffan Lindgren and Ken Raffa’s paper, titled “Evolution of tree killing in bark beetles: trade-offs between the maddening crowds and a sticky situation”.  This is a key review paper that provides comprehensive and in-depth coverage of a critically important topic, especially for forest entomology in North America.  Bark beetles are often in the news because of the economic consequences of their population increases as we have seen in recent years. Behind this, however, are fascinating life history traits and a story about their tree killing habits. This is where the paper by Staffan and Ken comes into play. These two exceptional scientists have decades of experience on the topic of tree killing in bark beetles, and they bring this expertise forward with this paper.

I asked Staffan and Ken a few questions about their paper, and here are the responses:

Q1:  What inspired this work?

The scientific inspiration came from many years of reading about and studying these amazing insects. Over time, it became clear that “aggressiveness” is a relative term with respect to tree-killing beetles, because they generally appear to be very poor competitors. The same also seemed to be the case with tree-killing root diseases, so a pattern of trade-offs became apparent. Given the potent defensive capability of most conifers, the question naturally arose “why would a beetle risk its life attacking a live tree rather than utilizing a dead or dying tree?” It seemed that the answer had to be linked to trade-offs between the selection pressures exerted by competitors and host tree defenses. The inspiration to write these ideas up evolved through many years of developing a friendship with each other, and we tossed the idea around in a number of discussions we had. The opportunity to act came when the former editor of TCE, Robb Bennett, extended an invitation to submit an article as a CP Alexander Review.

Staffan (R) and Ken (L) (photo by C Raffa)

Staffan (R) and Ken (L) (photo by C Raffa)

Q2:  What do you hope will be the lasting impact of this paper?

The main objective was to put the idea out and to stimulate debate and perhaps generate new research ideas that will contribute to an increased understanding of bark beetle ecology and management. Whether or not we are proven right or wrong is really less important. Based on some feedback we have had already, it seems that the paper has had the desired effect in terms of stimulating thought. I also thought this was a great opportunity to work together on a project: we admire each other as scientist and are friends

Q3:  Where will your next line of research on this topic take you?  

We are working with another great friend of ours, Jean-Claude Grégoire, on two chapters in an upcoming book about bark beetles, so there may be some other ideas emerging from that collaboration.

Q4: Any amusing / interesting anecdotes about this research?

(from Staffan): From my perspective one of the most amusing things is that I can claim the unique experience of having Ken Raffa as a nurse. He is very good at that too, as it happens! The last time I visited him in Madison to work on this paper, I caught a bad cold. So we worked from home that week, with me intermittently resting and writing. It was embarrassing at the time, but now I find it rather amusing.

Cambridge University Press has made Staffan & Ken’s paper freely available worldwide until November 30 for being recognized as the Editor’s Pick. Thanks CUPress!


Lindgren B.S. & Raffa K.F. (2013). Evolution of tree killing in bark beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae): trade-offs between the maddening crowds and a sticky situation, The Canadian Entomologist, 145 (05) 471-495. DOI:

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Ants of Alberta – Technical Editor’s Pick CJAI 22

Earlier this summer, a new key and review of the Ants of Alberta was published in the Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification. James Glasier, the lead author, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the work, and share some of the species he thought were particularly interesting.

Couplet 3 from Glasier et al. 2013

1. What inspired you to produce this key?

The key was inspired by the difficulty of finding coherent, up to date, and all-encompassing keys for the ant fauna of Alberta. It started as a side project, to help me better understand the differences among ant species I was finding during my thesis research.  As it developed, we realized that a key formatted for the Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification would greatly benefit anyone who wanted to study ants in the province. So with the help, guidance, and contributions of my co-authors, we developed to identify all known ants from Alberta.

2. Who do you think is most likely to use your key to the Ants of Alberta?

The coauthors and I hope that anyone who is interested in ants uses the key.  We think that in Canada, ants are too often ignored in biological studies and with this key we hope more people will include them in their research.

3. Rather than provide individual accounts for each species, you’ve linked out to the species profiles in AntWeb. Why did you decide to do it this way, and what advantages does AntWeb have over traditional publishing?

We decided to link the key to AntWeb, because AntWeb has fantastic photos of ant specimens and they are always updating their photo catalog.  It is hoped that these photos work in concert with the key we have developed and better aid identification of ant specimens.  Additionally, AntWeb has an online specimen catalog and natural history sections, which is easily accessed and continually updated to provide current information about each ant species.

4. Were there any ants that you were surprised to find in Alberta?

The most surprising was species was the neotropical ant Brachymyrmex obscurior; found in the Olds University Atrium by Dr. Ken Fry.  For better or worse, the colony seems to have died out. Another surprising ant species was found by John Acorn, Dolichoderus taschenbergi. This ant is a rather obvious ant when you are out in the field; workers are black and very shiny, and in the morning will all congregate on their nest to sun themselves.  The effect of hundreds of workers covering a ~30cm2 area is an obvious sparkling mass of black.  Yet, with over 30 years of work by multiple researchers in the Opal Sand Hills, including John, no one recognized that this species was present until our ant project began.

Dolichoderus taschenbergi – Photo by April Nobile, courtesy of AntWeb.org (CC BY 3.0)

Glasier, J.R.N., Acorn, J.H., Nielsen, S., Proctor, H. 2013. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Alberta: A key to species based primarily on the worker caste. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification No. 22, 4 July, 2013. Available online at http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/bsc/ejournal/ganp_22/ganp_22.htmlhttp://dx.doi.org/10.3752/cjai.2013.22

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Canadian amber reveals bizarre ants from the Cretaceous – Editor’s Pick for TCE 145(4)

By Dr. Chris Buddle, McGill University & Editor of The Canadian Entomologist


It’s with great pleasure that I announce my pick for the latest issue of The Canadian Entomologist.  Ryan McKellar and colleagues wrote a paper on a new trap-jawed ant from Canadian late Cretaceous amber (freely available during September).  As they write in the Abstract, the new species “….expands the distribution of the bizarre, exclusively Cretaceous, trap-jawed Haidomyrmecini beyond their previous records…”. They truly are bizarre! Facial structures right out of a sci-fi movie!  When reading the paper, I was also surprised that the fossil record for the Formicidae is sparse during the Cretaceous.

Haidoterminus cippus. Figure 1 from McKellar et al. 2013

I asked the lead author a few questions about this work, and am pleased to share the responses with you. It’s truly exciting research, and I am thrilled that the pages of TCE include systematics from amber. This work stirs the imagination, and takes us all back in time.

What inspired this work?

My interest in the Canadian amber assemblage really began when Brian Chatterton (then my M.Sc. supervisor) showed me some of the slides that he had borrowed from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in order to write a book on Canadian palaeontology. The sample set contained insects with bizarre adaptations for life at low Reynolds numbers, and obvious ecological associations, spurring an interest that ultimately led to a research in parasitic microhymenoptera. Michael Engel subsequently introduced me to a much wider array of taxa, and we continue to explore the Canadian assemblage together and with the help of colleagues.

What do you hope will be the lasting impact of this paper?

New records, such as this trap-jawed ant, help to flesh out our picture of the amber-producing forest and its inhabitants. I hope that a comprehensive account of this assemblage will eventually provide insights into terrestrial conditions that are unavailable from other fossil types, and that this will shed some light on changes in diversity and conditions leading up to the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

Where will your next line of research on this topic take you?  

With any luck, we will be able to complete our coverage of Hymenoptera in Canadian amber soon, and make more of a concerted effort to cover other insect orders and some of the ecological associations found within the deposit. Grassy Lake amber still has a lot to offer, but it is only one of western Canada’s many amber deposits. As a larger-scale project, we are currently part of a team examining the numerous fragile ambers associated with coals in the region. The goal of this research is to create an amber-based record of forest types and inhabitants that spans more than 10 million years within the Late Cretaceous and Paleocene.

Can you share any interesting anecdotes from this research?

Surface-collecting amber can be quite difficult, because unpolished Canadian amber typically has a matte orange-brown colour, and is often covered with a carbon film or weathering crust. If there is no fractured surface visible and the specimen is not translucent, it can be quite difficult to distinguish from the surrounding coal or shale. Furthermore, there is such a range of shapes and sizes that some of the smaller amber droplets are easily confused with modern seeds. One of the quickest ways to see if you are dealing with amber is to wet the specimen and look for amber’s characteristic lustre, or tap the specimen on your teeth (amber feels like plastic compared to most suspect rocks). Naturally, I have licked quite a few samples in the course of my collecting, and have lost a lot of my appreciation for rabbits.

A selection of amber from Grassy Lake. Photo courtesy Brian Chatterton

A selection of amber from Grassy Lake. Photo courtesy Brian Chatterton

Thanks to Cambridge Journals Online for making this month’s Editor’s Pick Freely Available for the month of September!

This post is a regular series highlighting great papers from the pages of the Canadian Entomologist. 
McKellar R.C., Glasier J.R.N. & Engel M.S. (2013). A new trap-jawed ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Haidomyrmecini) from Canadian Late Cretaceous amber, The Canadian Entomologist, 145 (04) 454-465. DOI:

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From filing cabinets to fieldwork: an investigation into Aphid population variability

By Chris Buddle, Editor of the Canadian Entomologist


I am pleased to present the “Editor’s Pick” manuscript for the current issue of The Canadian Entomologist. This pick was a paper by Bob Lamb, Patricia MacKay and Andrei Alyokhin, titled “Seasonal dynamics of three coexisting aphid species: implications for estimating population variability

I had always admired the ongoing work on aphids, spearheaded by Bob and Pat. Their work is always relevant, meticulous, framed in an important and broader ecological context, and they have a ‘model system’ to work with. This is the kind of researcher many more junior entomologists look up to.  The current paper is no exception. In this work, Bob and Pat joined up with Andrei Alyokhin and present a careful study of population variability and effectively use this metric to better understand population dynamics over time.  For me, I see much value in this approach, and can see how this kind of work could effectively be used in teaching students about how to best describe, understand, and quantify population dynamics.  I’m also inspired to see long-term data with arthropods. These kinds of data are so useful, but relatively rare. It’s great to see Bob, Pat and Andrei publish thoughtful and important work using such data.  I may also look around some old filing cabinets at my University…

Bob was kind enough to answer a few questions about this work, with input from his co-authors.

What inspired this work?

When Pat MacKay and I were anticipating eventual retirement from paying jobs as entomologists, we decided to begin a study of an aphid population that could be pursued as long as we could walk trails and count aphids. Our goal was to figure out why aphid populations seem to be so unstable. Eventually we wrote up our findings on the stability of one native species over the first 10 years of a study we hope will go on for at least another 10 years. A few years ago we realized we needed comparative data, but were too old to start on a 20-year study of another aphid species. The solution was to write to colleagues who also had long-term data sets, to see if they were interested in looking at their data from this perspective. So far the colleagues we have contacted have been enthusiastic collaborators. The first was Andrei Alyokhin our coauthor on the current paper. He gave us access to 60 years of data on three aphid species. The first paper on the stability of these aphids was published in the Canadian Entomologist two years ago. The current paper extends that earlier work, looking now at how aphid seasonal biology affects our estimates of stability.

Bob Lamb, sporting "aphid hunting gear"

Bob Lamb, sporting “aphid hunting gear”

What do you hope will be the lasting impact of this paper?

We hope that this paper will help convince other researchers that Joel Heath’s metric, PV, which we use to quantify population variability, is a robust way to quantify one aspect of the stability of populations. If more researchers adopt this metric, ecologists will have a much greater opportunity to apply a comparative approach and identify factors that contribute to stability or instability of populations.

Where will your next line of research on this topic take you?

Pat MacKay and I continue to extend our time series on the abundance of a native aphid, and are now focusing more on the ecological processes that cause our five populations to rise and fall. We also hope to expand our studies of stability to still more aphid species, but also species with very different life histories. At the moment I am working with a colleague, Terry Galloway, University of Manitoba, on several time-series of ectoparasite abundance on birds.

Do you have any interesting anecdotes about this research?

One of the most interesting aspects of the work on aphids from potatoes is the source of the data – 60 years or more of weekly aphid counts. The data for the early years were discovered by Andrei Alyokhin in an abandoned filing cabinet stored in a barn at the University of Maine. Andrei was a new faculty member at the time exploring his research facilities. His predecessors had maintained meticulous records of aphid densities in potato plots since soon after World War II. Andrei was quick to recognize the value of this data, and more importantly recognized the need to go on collecting the data in the same way. The result is an amazing data set, one of the longest continuous records at one location of the dynamics of multi-voltine species.

Lesson 1: newly-hired entomologists should begin their careers by searching old filing cabinets.

Lesson 2: meticulous long-term records can be invaluable, sometime in ways that you might not anticipate.

Andrei discovering data in old filing cabinets

Andrei discovering data in old filing cabinets

Lamb R.J., MacKay P.A. & Alyokhin A. (2013). Seasonal dynamics of three coexisting aphid species: implications for estimating population variability, The Canadian Entomologist, 145 (03) 283-291. DOI:

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Canadian Entomologist Editor’s Pick – March 2013

By Chris Buddle, editor of The Canadian Entomologist


The Canadian Entomologists’ latest issue is devoted to Arctic Entomology, with guest editors Derek Sikes and Toke T. Høye putting together an excellent suite of papers on this topic.  This is a very timely issue – there is an incredible amount of Arctic entomology happening around the world, and the Arctic is an area that is undergoing rapid environmental change.   It’s good that scientists are paying attention, and that entomologists are doing high quality research in the north.

Deciding on an “editor’s pick” for this issue was difficult as there were many excellent papers to choose from.  However, I ended up selecting Gergely Várkonyi and Tomas Roslin’s paper titled “Freezing cold yet diverse: dissecting a high-Arctic parasitoid community associated with Lepidoptera hosts”.   These authors, from Finland, have presented a very nice study about some food-web dynamics occurring in Zackenberg, Greenland  – a truly high Arctic field site, and one that has a remarkable history of long-term ecological monitoring.  Their work is focused on unraveling some of the amazing interactions between Lepidoptera and their parasitoids, and this paper provides a “systematic effort to characterise the high-Arctic Hymenoptera and Diptera parasitoid community associated with Lepidoptera hosts”.   This is a great paper, and hopefully continues to inspire continued efforts to study entomology at high latitudes.

Greenlandic field station

I asked the authors some questions about their work and they kindly provided in-depth answers:

Q1:  What inspired this work?

TOMAS: What got me interested in Arctic predator-prey dynamics was the work of my friend Olivier Gilg. His exploration of the predator-prey dynamics among collared lemmings and their few and selected enemies of Northeast Greenland made me realize that in a species-poor environment, the impact of individual species on each other will be oh-so-much easier to disentangle than among the zillions of interactions typical of tropical and even temperate communities. Here if anywhere you can actually work out both the structure and inner workings of full food webs – which is the very the idea that we have now realized in our study. (And well, from a less scientific point of view, after visiting Northeast Greenland I also realized that this is the most beautiful area of the globe, and that there is nowhere else that I would rather work.)

GERGELY: I have been interested in northern insects, especially hymenopteran parasitoids, since a very long time. I did my PhD in a subarctic environment in Finnish Lapland, with the main focus on host-parasitoid population dynamics between periodic moths and their enemies. I first encountered Greenlandic ichneumonids when my former teacher in ichneumonid taxonomy – and current friend – Reijo Jussila worked on the descriptions of some new species from the Scoresbysund area in Northeast Greenland. More than a decade later, Tomas asked me to identify some samples from Traill Island (NE Greenland), where he had initiated a pilot project on Lepidoptera-Hymenoptera food webs. The next step was when he invited me to join his project about to be launched at Zackenberg. The rest is history…

Q2:  What do you hope will be the lasting impact of this paper?

TOMAS: What I hope that we have achieved are three things: to expose the importance of versatile biotic interactions even in a harsh arctic environment, to reveal the massive effort needed to convincingly dissect even a simple food web, and to establish the baseline structure of a food web facing imminent climate change.

GERGELY: Could not say it any better. I can only add that I hope our thorough overview of the taxonomy and natural history of individual parasitoid species will contribute to getting a better understanding of who is who and what roles each species play in this arctic scene.

flowers in containers

Q3:  Where will your next line of research on this topic take you? 

TOMAS: While we have now figured out the structure of the Lepidoptera-parasitoid web, we should remember that this is but a small module of the overall food web of the region. Our current work aims at expanding/zooming out from this core web towards the full food web of the region, which should actually be more realistically doable here than anywhere else on the globe (see above). In this work, we try to make maximal use of modern molecular tools, offering new resolution to documenting trophic interactions.

GERGELY: Apart from the community ecology goals of this project, we will further continue to update what is known about the parasitic wasp fauna of Greenland. I am focusing on the Ichneumonidae, the single most species-rich family of Hymenoptera in both Greenland and the entire World. By combining morphology and molecular methods, I attempt to clarify species boundaries and detect potential cryptic species. The ultimate goal of this research is to compile a modern taxonomic overview of the Ichneumonidae of Greenland.

Q4: Any amusing anecdotes about this research?

TOMAS: Gergely used to wear a handy hiking suit of light coloration. One day he was almost shot as a polar bear after sneaking up on an unsuspecting colleague in the field.

GERGELY: Well, first of all I was not sneaking, just looking for adult wasps in a safe distance from this colleague of ours. She thought my net was a giant paw of a polar bear (!) and she was really scared for a short moment. But she was definitely not about to shoot me!


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Editor’s Pick: Resins, exotic woodwasps and how a study species picks a researcher.

by Christopher Buddle, McGill University


As the Editor-in-Chief of The Canadian Entomologist, I have the pleasure of seeing all papers move through the publication process, from first submission to approval of the final proof.  This places me in a position to fully appreciate the incredible entomological research occurring around the world.  As one way to promote some of the great papers within TCE, I have decided to start a series of blog posts titled “Editor’s Pick” – these are papers that stand out as being high quality research, and research that has broad interest to the entomological community.  I will pick one paper from each issue, and write a short piece to profile the paper.

For the first issue of the current volume (145), I’ve picked the paper by Kathleen Ryan and colleagues, titled “Seasonal occurrence and spatial distribution of resinosis, a symptom of Sirex noctilio (Hymenoptera: Siricidae) injury, on boles of Pinus sylvestris (Pinaceae)“.   Sirex noctilio is a recently introduced species in Canada, and is a woodwasp that we need to pay attention to.   As Kathleen writes, “unlike our native species of woodwasps, it attacks and kills living pines” and because of this, we must strive to find effective ways to monitor the species.  One potential approach is to look for signs of resinosis, or ‘excessive’ outflow of tree sap and resins from conifers.  The goal of this work was to specifically assess “the spatial and temporal distribution of resin symptoms of attack to optimise sampling“.  The work involved Kathleen spending a LOT of time in the field, observing evidence of damage to trees, and assessing timing of resinosis relative to other damage to pine trees as related to woodwasps.  In the end, Kathleen was able to confirm that in most infested trees, the appearance of resin was a meaningful detection method.  This is a very practical paper, and very useful towards finding the best methods to detect this exotic species.

Sirex noctilio female - Photo by K. Ryan

Sirex noctilio female – Photo by K. Ryan

I asked Kathleen a few questions about this paper and the context of the work.

Q: Kathleen, what first got you interested in this area of research?

A: I became interested in studying Sirex’s interaction with other subcortical insects. Sirex was recently detected in North America at the time and we didn’t know much about it here including how, where and when to find it  – all of which were essential in planning research about insect interactions. So this study was my starting point – my “getting to know Sirex” study.

Q:  What do you hope will be the lasting impact of this paper?

A: This paper is the result of the many hours of field observations that helped me to become more familiar with Sirex. Since its really basic research, I hope that this paper might be a useful starting point for other people beginning to work with Sirex.

Q:  Where will your next line of research on this topic take you?  

A: Currently, I’m studying another invasive wood-borer, but I’d like to work with Sirex again – it’s a really interesting and unique insect biologically and ecologically. I’m especially interested in studying Sirex community ecology in its native, European, range to see how it compares to North America.

This is truly an important area of study, and I do look forward to seeing more of Kathleen’s papers in TCE.

Finally, I asked Kathleen about any amusing anecdotes about the research, and she shared this wonderful story with me:

The first day we worked together, my PhD advisor Peter de Groot, dropped me off at a forest site with instructions to only observe and collect absolutely no data. I had been in the forest for only a few moments, when a female Sirex landed right in front of me. So being an entomologist, naturally I caught her. A couple of hours later, still holding her, I met back up with Peter and sheepishly admitted that I had caught some “data”. Thinking it fantastic, from that point forward he told everyone that Sirex had picked me as her project.

Looking for wood wasps - Photo by K. Ryan

Looking for woodwasps – Photo by K. Ryan

I believe that these kinds of stories behind the research make Entomology more accessible and real, and help us appreciate the human element of scientific research.

As a final note, the entomological community was very saddened by Peter de Groot’s death in 2010.  His legacy to Canadian Entomology is still very strong.

A special thanks to Kathleen for answering a few questions, and sharing insights into the first ‘Editor’s pick’ for The Canadian Entomologist


Reference:  Ryan, K, P. de Groot, S.M. Smith and J. J. Turgeon.  Seasonal occurrence and spatial distribution of resinosis, a symptom of Sirex noctilio (Hymenoptera: Siricidae) injury on boles of Pinus sylvestris (Pinaceae). The Canadian Entomologist 145: 117-122. Link.