Insects and Wildlife

Fort Saskatchewan is home to a wide variety of insects and wildlife. Many are beneficial to crops and the environment, sometimes they can cause harm to our plants and animals or be a nuisance around our homes.

Ash Leaf Cone Rollers

The larvae mine or eat the underside of the Ash tree leaves. This causes the curling of the leaves into a cone shape. The good news with Ash Leaf Cone Rollers is that with most healthy trees, the larvae do not have the ability to kill the tree. The leaves will drop at the end of the season and grow back as they would the following year.

If the larvae become a reoccurring problem or you have a large Ash tree you are wanting to protect, stingless wasps can be used as a natural pest control measure. Given the nature of the Ash Leaf Cone Rollers, the use of any chemical spray would render useless as the larvae are wrapped up within the leaf and protected.

Ash leaf cone roller

Resources

Top 10 Garden Pests

Backyard Pest Management in Alberta

Bees and Wasps

Visually, these insects can be difficult to identify, but both play an important role in our ecosystem. Wasps serve as a natural pest control as they prey on other insects, and bees are pollinators. For this reason, when it’s safe to do so, the City strives to keep and relocate as many wasp, and bee, nests as possible. If a nest proves to be a safety hazard to the community, Park staff will determine the safest way to proceed using the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program.

Bees will swarm together when they travel in search of a new location for a hive. Once they’ve found a location, the bees all hover or land on a tree or bush. If you notice this on your property or in a high traffic area, phone a local beekeeper and they happily relocate the bees.

If you come across either a wasp nest or a bee hive on a City property, report it on Fort Report. Never approach the nests or try and deal with it yourself!

Bee and wasp

Did you know: 90% of flowering plant species on earth depend on insect pollination? For example, if a honey bee makes 10 trips in a day with its colony of 25,000 bees, and visits between 50-1,000 flowers –that’s 250 million flowers pollinated in a day! Bees are a keystone species, other species in our ecosystem depend on them to survive –including humans!

Resources

Alberta Beekeepers Swarm Information

Bees, Hornets and Wasp Control

Elm Scale

The Elm Scale is a sap sucking insect that calls Elm trees home. The trouble with this pest is it feeds on the sap from leaves and branches, and can cause weak trees to die. If your tree is suffering from elm scale it’ll have a sooty, black mold on the leaves from the insects. To rid Elm trees of Elm, it’s recommended to power wash trees to remove the sap and prevention of the sooty mold. Another treatment for Elm Scale is to prune the trees; however, it’s very important to follow the pruning ban in Alberta from April 1 to September 30 every year. This is to prevent Dutch Elm Disease from infecting the Elm trees in the area.

Elm scale

Resources

The Prairie Arborist (Issue 2, 2017)

All Season Tree Disease Guide

Pollinators

What are pollinators?

A pollinator is an animal that fertilizes plants by moving pollen form one flower to another. Pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved between two flowers of the same species, or within a single flower, by wind or animals that are pollinators.

About 75% of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators and over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators such as hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals. The rest are insects such as beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies, and moths.

Pollinators are critical in the reproduction of 30% of major food crops. So when you enjoy a apple juicy apple or a fresh cut tomato you must thank the pollinators of the world.

What can we do to help pollinators?

Reduce your impact. Reduce or eliminate your pesticide use, increase green spaces, and minimize urbanization. Pollution and climate change affect pollinators, too!

Plant for pollinators. Create pollinator-friendly habitats with native flowering plants that supply pollinators with nectar, pollen, and homes. 

Pollinator friendly plants

  • Liatris
  • Aster
  • Sunflower
  • Lavendar
  • Goldenrod
  • Coneflower
  • Milkweed
  • Bee Balm

Wildlife

City staff do not remove or relocate wildlife under any circumstances.

Please report all concerns to Alberta Fish and Wildlife: 780-427-3574.

Beavers

Beavers are a valuable member to the ecosystem as they create ponds and bodies of water for other organisms to live. They can also be detrimental to our ecosystem through their ability to chew through trees and create dams like it’s their day job!

Beaver

Beavers are territorial animals when it comes to competing with other beavers. As far as humans and dogs go, they will only attack if they feel threatened. Beavers are known to reside in the pond at the West River’s Edge adjacent to the Dog Park. If you see a beaver, keep your dog close, leash your dog or relocate to one of the other fenced in areas. Being aware of the beavers and coexisting will be key to keeping you, your dogs and the beavers safe.

More information on Beavers 

Coyotes

Coyotes are a natural pest control that are important to the ecosystem in Fort Saskatchewan to ensure that the number of rodents stays at an acceptable level. Coyotes by nature are not aggressive unless they feel threatened. Most times, coyotes are more scared of you, than you are of them! With that being said, coyotes are animals after all and their behaviour cannot always be predicted.

Coyotes, Photo by Tony LePrieur
Photo by Tony LePrieur

There are a number of recommendations for residents to reduce the number of encounters with coyotes in City limits. The major recommendation is to not leave food, garbage or dog waste laying on the ground as these items attract coyotes. They are intelligent creatures, if food is left out and they come across it, it is likely coyotes will return to that location looking for more food. Other preventative measures include reducing the number of hiding spots (i.e., under decks, sheds, and trees with low hanging branches).

If you do encounter a coyote, the Government of Alberta recommends that you make it an unpleasant experience for the coyote. You can do this by making yourself look bigger, wave your arms, and shout. The goal is to modify their behaviour to discourage them from coming into City limits and near people. If you encounter a coyote at the off leash dog park, put the leash back on your dog to ensure that the dog does not attack or threaten the coyote in anyway.

If you have an immediate concern regarding a coyote, please contact Fish & Wildlife: 780-427-3574

More information on Coyotes

Urban Coyotes Brochure

Garter Snakes

Alberta has three species of Garter Snakes. These small, slender snakes rank among the most beautiful and more common snakes in the province.

Garter Snakes

They can be found in a wide variety of habitats and are often encountered along the margins of wetlands, rivers, and other bodies of water. All Garter Snakes are harmless to people and when approached they quickly retreat to dense cover or water. Garter snakes are not picky and will eat almost any creature that they are able to catch including small fish, amphibians, small mammals, earthworms, slugs, and leeches.

More information on Snakes in Alberta

Hibernacula (Winter Dens)

Information from Alberta Conservation Association.

All Alberta reptiles survive the winter in places where they will not freeze. Each fall, Alberta snakes set off from their summer feeding grounds back to traditional winter dens, called hibernacula. Hibernacula are often used for many years and include the crevices in rocky outcrops, slumps along river valleys, animal burrows, and other subterranean spaces that extend far underground and below the frost line.

The temperatures within hibernacula remain just above freezing and fairly constant because of the insulating effects of the earth. As snakes enter a period of dormancy they don't eat a thing for many months and live sparingly off the energy stored in body fat reserves.

Eventually, the warmth of spring will penetrate their winter retreats and lure the snaked back to the surface. Because of the vulnerability of snakes at hibernacula, these communal sites are protected from disturbance under the Alberta Wildlife Act.

Fun Fact!

Fort Saskatchewan is home to a garter snake hibernacula! If you happen to come across a hibernacula, please do not touch or disturb it.

Resources

Alberta Conservation Association

Alberta Fish and Wildlife

Northern Alberta Wildlife Rehabilitation and Rescue

Woolly Elm Aphids

Have you ever had sticky sap spots on your vehicle after parking under a tree? This is caused by pests call Woolly Elm Aphids. These pests are harmless to humans and trees alike however, the sap that can be left on your vehicle is a nuisance. Woolly Elm Aphids will eat away at the underside of leaves so that they curl, creating a protective barrier for them from the environment.

Since there is no harm caused from these pests, the City does not spray chemicals to get rid of these insects. One recommendation the City can make to homeowners that have Elm trees that contain these Aphids, is to spray water up and down the tree to reduce the stickiness of the sap. Another recommendation is to not park your car under these trees for the few weeks of the year that the Aphids are feeding on the leaves in the month on May.

Woolly Elm Aphid Photo by: Steven Katovich, Bugwood.org
Photo by Steven Katovich, Bugwood.org

Learn more about Woolly Elm Aphids

Notice an issue on City property? Please report it through Fort Report.