Canola School: The mysterious canola flower (not swede) midge

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Seven years after swede midge was identified in Ontario, three adult midge were found in Saskatchewan, in 2007. It was then believed the insects were the same species (Contarinia nasturtii), but researchers have since discovered differences between the two.

“We have now behavioural evidence — we know that what we thought was swede midge in Saskatchewan isn’t attracted to our pheromone traps,” says Boyd Mori, research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada out of Saskatoon, adding that there are also subtle, physical differences between the species.

“And we also have some genetic evidence now that indicates it’s not actually the same species.”

In this interview, filmed at FarmTech in Edmonton, research scientist Boyd Mori provides an update on the canola flower midge, including distribution, plant symptomology, and the next steps for researchers and farmers.

So far, neither species has caused significant damage in the west, but for researchers like Mori, this finding means there’s a need for further investigation, not to mention a formal name and description.

“We have a tentative common name — right now we’re calling it the canola flower midge — and then we’re working on a publication to actually get a formal, scientific name for it.”

The canola flower midge has not been described anywhere else in the world, says Mori, and right now, the only symptoms definitively associated with the midge are bottled/galled flowers. Further exploration will determine whether or not the insect is, in fact, a pest of canola, and what the next steps should be for Western Canadian farmers.

If a producer believes s/he might have found symptoms of swede midge or canola flower midge, Mori suggests getting in touch with an agronomist, and contacting Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

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