Canola Flower Midge: a newly dis­cov­ered species

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Farm News -

In the agri­cul­tural lands of Canada, most farm­ers would think they’ve seen all the pests that they could see. But not so: a new species of midge has re­cently been iden­ti­fied.

Dr. Boyd Mori, who be­gan his ca­reer with Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Saska­toon in 2016, has been study­ing swede midge, a com­mon pest that dam­ages Bras­si­caceae crops like canola, cab­bage and broc­coli. At one point, he thought the traps were bro­ken, as they weren’t pick­ing up as many swede midges as ex­pected. But they were pick­ing up some­thing else..

"At this point, we’re not sure if it is a na­tive species or whether it has mi­grated from other ar­eas, like the swede midge did. We’re look­ing into the life cy­cle, agro­nomic im­pacts, and the ex­is­tence of nat­u­ral en­e­mies (ben­e­fi­cial in­sects)." said Dr. Boyd Mori, Re­search Sci­en­tist - In­sect Ecol­ogy and Pop­u­la­tion Ge­net­ics, Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Canada.

Not rec­og­niz­ing the in­sects they were see­ing in their traps, they sent them to their col­leagues in On­tario for ver­i­fi­ca­tion. Ex­perts agreed - this in­sect has never be­fore been de­scribed in lit­er­a­ture and has there­fore been iden­ti­fied as a new species. One the­ory as to why it was only dis­cov­ered now is that

it might be a na­tive species whose for­tunes (and pop­u­la­tion) have in­creased with the rise of canola acreage in the past 50 years. A lot more re­search needs to be done to learn about their bi­ol­ogy, po­ten­tial eco­nomic im­pact on crops and if nec­es­sary, how to con­trol them. Con­tarinia bras­si­cola – also known as the Canola Flower Midge

When a new species is iden­ti­fied, it needs a name. Dr. Mori worked with Dr. Brad Sinclair, a Diptera (fly) ex­pert from the Cana­dian Food In­spec­tion Agency, to name it. Fac­tors that go into the nam­ing of the fly in­clude where it was found, the crop it af­fects, and its phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics. Thus, it was de­cided that

the new midge would be called Con­tarinia bras­si­cola, or the canola flower midge. Key dis­cov­er­ies (ben­e­fits)

• Midges are a group of in­sects that in­clude many kinds of small flies. Many have detri­men­tal ef­fects on agri­cul­tural crops. Re­searchers at AAFC are study­ing ways to mit­i­gate this dam­age.

• Re­searchers in Saska­toon, Saskatchew­an iden­ti­fied a new species of midge that af­fects canola.

• This new species of midge, named the canola flower midge, will be re­searched fur­ther. At this time, there has been no ev­i­dence found of this new midge threat­en­ing or caus­ing se­ri­ous dam­age to crops but fur­ther as­sess­ment is re­quired.

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