Monday, February 13, 2017

A new gall midge: Contarinia n. sp.

Photo by SRDC 
Members of the fly family Cecidomyiidae are known as gall midges or gall gnats. Their larvae feed within plant tissue and release chemicals that induce abnormal plant growths called galls. These flies are minute, many of them are less than 1 mm long. They are characterized by hairy wings and have long antennae. More than 6,000 species are currently known to science but this is likely a gross underestimate.

Researchers at the Saskatoon Research and Development Centre (SRDC), along with colleagues at the University of Guelph, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency now found a new Cecidomyiid damaging canola in northeastern Saskatchewan and east-central Alberta. The new species, which has yet to be named and scientifically described, belongs to the genus Contarinia. It is similar in appearance to the swede midge, Contarinia nasturtii, a gall midge native to Europe and Asia, was first found as a pest of plants in the Brassicaceae (cabbage) family in Ontario in 2000. This was the first reported occurrence of this pest species in North America. It is now widely distributed in Ontario and Quebec and has been detected in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and several U.S. states. 

The potential threat posed by the new species needs to be determined. This summer researchers will try to determine the midge’s range and learn more about its life cycle in order to find out if it causes yield losses as well.

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