The Pest of the Prairie
Entomologists recently discovered a new insect species that lives within prairie cordgrass , whose presence explains why farmers have had so many problems with seed production lately. The prairie cordgrass gall midge is the culprit behind the destruction of cordgrass seeds.
The gall midge uses the prairie cordgrass to feed and house its larvae. When the plant begins to flower the gall midge lays its eggs inside of it right near the seed. When the larvae hatch they feed on the developing seed inside the cordgrass. This could explain that while the demand for prairie cordgrass is high, many farmers don’t want to deal with high cost of growing it, especially when it produces very few seeds.
There is a possible solution to this gall midge problem, however. The prairie cordgrass gall midge has a natural predator that feeds on it but doesn’t also damage the cordgrass. This is the parasitic wasp. Researchers are looking into introducing a large population of the parasitic wasps to naturally control the gall midge population without needing to resort to using pesticides.
Do you know anything about growing prairie cordgrass? How big of a problem could these little gall midges be for this industry?