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Detection of Swede Midge in Western New York Crucifer Fields 2002

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Julie R. Kikkert, Sr. Extension Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Vegetable Program in Ontario, Wayne, Yates, and Steuben Counties, 480 N. Main Street, Canandaigua, NY 14424. E-mail

Christine A. Hoepting, Area Extension Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Lake Plains Vegetable Program, Orleans County Office, 20 South Main Street, P.O. Box 150, Albion, NY 14411. E-mail

Anthony M. Shelton, Professor, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Department of Entomology, Barton Laboratory, Geneva, NY 14456. E-mail:


Field Scouts: John Gibbons, Glenn Hudson, Nathan Abbott, Kate Bellows

52 Crucifer Growers in Western NY

Kristen Callow, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Ontario, Canada

Hannah Fraser, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Ontario, Canada

Mike Wood, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ottawa, Canada

Jamie Heal, University of Guelph, Canada

Bob Mungari, NYS Department of Ag & Markets, Albany, NY

Carolyn Klass, Department of Entomology, Cornell University

Lewis Tandy, USDA APHIS, Batavia, NY

Type of Grant: Monitoring, forecasting, and economic thresholds

Project location: Western New York


The swede midge (Contarinia nasturtii) is a tiny insect whose larvae feed on and destroy the growing tips of cruciferous plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. The pest was not known in North America until it was identified in Ontario, Canada in 2000. A 2002 survey conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), confirmed the presence of swede midge in eight Ontario counties, where it has caused serious losses in crop yield and marketability. Neighboring New York State leads the United States in cabbage production with a crop valued at $87 million per year that could be at risk should swede midge infestation occur. There was a need to educate the NY agricultural industry about this potential pest and to determine its presence in NYS. Cornell Cooperative Extension Educators, Christy Hoepting and Julie Kikkert, along with Cornell Entomologist, Tony Shelton traveled to Ontario, Canada to meet with various university and government experts to learn more about swede midge and to view the damage it causes first hand. In NYS, the educators presented nine informational sessions to more than 100 growers, research faculty, industry representatives, and United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) directors and inspectors. In addition, five educational articles were published in local newsletters and a color fact sheet was developed that will be sent to all crucifer growers in NYS. For the 2002 western NY detection survey, four scouts were hired to inspect crucifer fields on foot. The scouts were trained in Canada to diagnose swede midge infestation. Nearly 1900 acres of crucifer crops were scouted in 30 townships within nine counties in western NY, representing about 15% of the total acreage grown. Fortunately, the SM was not detected. Educating the NY agricultural industry about the swede midge decreased the probability that its occurrence would go undetected or misdiagnosed for several years in NY. The fact that the swede midge was not found during the extensive detection survey may be the basis on which protective measures can be implemented to keep the swede midge out of NYS, thus avoiding production and economic losses valued in millions of dollars.

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