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Invasive insect threatens Minnesota vegetables crops

Staff Writer |
A new invasive insect has made its way to Minnesota and is now causing damage to certain vegetables and crops.

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The Swede midge is a small fly that infests cruciferous crops such as broccoli, cabbage, or canola.

The insect was first discovered in Minnesota in 2016 by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in community gardens in Ramsey and Hennepin counties. This year, the MDA has spotted damage to vegetables in these two counties.

“Swede midge has the potential to greatly impact Minnesota,” said Mark Abrahamson, Assistant Director of MDA’s Plant Protection Division. “Crop losses will impact home, community and market gardens, as well as the state’s canola growers.”

Swede midge, which is native to Europe and southwestern Asia, is widespread in areas of eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. It has also been confirmed in Manitoba near the Minnesota border.

"Discovery of this new pest in Minnesota continues to confirm a disturbing trend of new invasive species affecting the state's agriculture industry,” said Dr. Hutchison. “This trend is also likely facilitated by increased global trade, travel and warmer winters.”

The U of M Extension IPM Program will work closely with the MDA to begin adapting IPM strategies for the affected crops as soon as possible. Work will also continue in 2018 to confirm the extent of infestations.

“It is important to track where this insect is present and if damage is being seen so that growers have an opportunity to prepare,” said Abrahamson.

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