Growers and field reps throughout the region have been noticing issues with seed maggots. Similar to root maggots, these are the immature form of a certain type of fly (Diptera: Anthomyiidae: Delia spp.).
There are three species, in particular, that can be devastating in vegetable crops. The first, cabbage maggot (D. radicum) is well-known and tends to infest brassicas only. Use this link for more info on cabbage maggot.
“Seedcorn maggot” is the common name for what is actually a complex of two species – D. platura and D. florilega. “Bean seed fly” is another commonly used name for adults. These two species are remarkably similar, both as larvae and adults. For adult flies, color is variable and one must examine leg hair length and placement. Maggots are indistinguishable, even by experts.
Complaints so far have come from parsnip and snap bean fields, but dry beans, corn, peas, and squash growers should take note. If emergence is low, scout 2-ft row sections. Look for damage to seeds and white, tapered maggots. Maggots are legless and have a blunt posterior.
PHOTOS ABOVE ADAPTED FROM: Savage, J., Fortier, A-M., Fournier, F., Bellavance, V. 2016. Identification of Delia pest species (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) in cultivated crucifers and other vegetable crops in Canada. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification No. 29: June 29, 2016. doi:10.3752/cjai.2016.29
Brooks, A. R. 1951. Identification of the Root Maggots (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) Attacking Cruciferous Garden Crops in Canada, with Notes on Biology and Control. Can. Entomol. 83(5): 109-120.
Higley, L. G. and L. P. Pedigo. 1984. Seedcorn Maggot (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) Population Biology and Aestivation in Central Iowa. Environmental Entomology. 13(5):1436-1442.
CRF prefers cool weather and activity tends to diminish during the summer heat.
HOWEVER: Summer activity is measured by pan traps, and
the authors of the model above agree that summer activity might have been underestimated because of ‘visible competition’ and attractiveness of blooming crops and weeds vs. yellow traps. The spring generation can be extended up to 3 weeks or more, depending on how long rainy, cool weather conditions persist. Also, we know that there are overlapping generations of CRF, and a study from California suggests that egg-laying behavior and subsequent damage during summer months is markedly different than fall:
ANOTHER FACTOR is that Delia radicum is actually part of a much larger ‘rootfly complex’, and different species have different ecological niches, behavior, and activity periods. This tableexplains some of those differences. Identifying rootflies is hard enough when they are adults, and nearly impossible as maggots and pupae. Thus, they are referred to as a pest complex that can affect growers year-round.
1According to a regional model (Dreves 2006), and current 2018 data (Agrimet station CVRO)
Seed corn maggot – Poor emergence may be a sign of underground feeding by seedcorn maggots, which are the immature stage of Delia platura. Plants are most susceptible at seedling stage. Host plants include: corn, green and broad beans, onion, brassicas, peas, pepper, potato, spinach, and beet.
SCM is especially attracted to newly-tilled soil with high organic matter / manure inputs.
They have multiple, overlapping generations per year. This image by U. of Illinois highlights how adults, eggs, and maggots may all be present at the same time.
If emergence is low, scout 2-ft row sections for seed damage and white, tapered maggots that look very similar to cabbage maggot. Both species favor cool conditions for egg-laying, but D. platura are more active as adults in warm weather.
There is a fascinating biological (fungal) control for SCM that alters the fly’s behavior: It causes the flies to settle on tips of grain stems or high-up flowers and die, which increases dispersal of the fungus to spread farther.
Seed bugs– There have been recent complaints of high numbers of ‘small, flying insects’ in both urban and rural areas since mid-April. The bugs are 3-4mm with elongate bodies and wing covers with 4-5 veins. Experts agree that the taxonomy of this group is in need of a major revision, so they are usually referenced to genus level only.
More than half of all known Nysius species are from Hawaii, including the endemic wēkiu bug, that migrates to the summit of Mauna Kea each year.
Nysius spp. are seed predators and tend to be less selective then other, related Lygaeidae. Extensive damage can occur in wheat, quinoa, canola, and sorghum. Occasional feeding can occur on ornamentals, other cereals, and tomatoes.
Similar to boxelder bugs, they are attracted to large, sunny, white buildings, which has led to nuisance reports by homeowners. Various Ask-an-Expert questions have been submitted, one of which I was able to identify last week as Nysius, probably N. raphanus. The high numbers we are seeing now is likely the result of overwintered nymphs maturing into active, winged adults. There are 4-7 generations per year.
WEEK 24 – Cabbage maggots are one of the most challenging pests for brassica growers. They tunnel through root tissue and increase the risk of exposure to plant pathogens Read this cabbage maggot page, which includes more info on biology and how to sample for them. Another late season pest is diamondback moth. Many sites are listed as "n/a" this week, because fields have been harvested and traps are being removed.
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Traps are being set this week. Stay tuned for a full report next Friday.
Adult rootflies are abundant; they love this cool rainy weather! If possible, protect seedlings with row covers. (Cabbage maggot info)
Did you know that winter cutworm is also a problem in Spring?! Visit this blog post for more info: http://bit.ly/2p9mC2Q
VegNet is an insect pest monitoring program funded by the Oregon Processed Vegetable Commission and managed by the Oregon State University Department of Horticulture. To add your name to this newsletter, please click the ‘subscribe’ button on the homepage.