Thursday, July 26, 2012

Moth Week 4: Glassy Cutworm

Apamea devastator the aptly named native moth whose larvae make a mess of many a crop and pasture
The Glassy Cutworm is not an exciting moth, but it is one with unique historical importance to entomological research in Alberta. The larva of this moth is not our friend, it's a sometimes nasty pest. Apamea devastator (Brace), 1819, as it is known amongst our non-judgemental entomological friends, is just one of those bugs that you have to live with if you want pasture or cereal crops or a garden on land that was once pasture. It seems to be a 'native' of North America and one that has been deliriously happy to welcome the advent of European forms of agriculture.
Forest Tent Caterpillar Logo of the Joint Entomological Societies of Canada and Alberta Annual General Meeting in Edmonton in November 2012
But almost a century ago E. H. Strickland was lured out to Alberta to do what he could to combat it. As a result, Alberta developed an Entomology Department at the University of Alberta (lost to budget cuts almost two decades ago), the Strickland Museum, and much knowledge about insects that have made the lives of every Albertan better. Of course, most of us are entirely ignorant about the benefits we enjoy from such research and tend to dwell on the unsolved problems like mosquitoes and tent caterpillars, other 'native' pests that just won't go away. 
An Albertan tent caterpillar - here to stay

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