by Donald Stotts, Southwest Farm Press
Hessian fly infestations have been found in southwestern Oklahoma winter wheat this fall, making it important for producers to identify affected fields and strategies that can assist in managing the pest next year.
“Even though there is not a 100 percent effective solution in terms of managing Hessian fly, producers have several options available to minimize the problems caused by this pest,” said Tom Royer, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension integrated pest management coordinator. “It starts with awareness about the pest and detecting its presence.”
Hessian fly infestations are often overlooked in wheat until damage becomes visible. The fly is tiny, only an eighth of an inch in size, and resembles a gnat. The larva does the damage to wheat, and starts out as an orange, headless and legless maggot that quickly crawls to a hidden feeding site in the plant.
“Once it attaches to the plant, it turns into a shiny, green-white maggot that doesn’t move until it emerges as a fly,” said Kristopher Giles, a research entomologist and professor with OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
The mature larva forms a dark brown, eighth-inch-long puparium—a hard barrel-shaped case enclosing the pupae and commonly referred to as a flaxseed. The flaxseed serves as the over-wintering and over-summering stage.