Editor’s note: The following was written by Robert Koch, University of Minnesota associate professor and Extension entomologist, Gloria Melotto, graduate student, and Amelia Lindsey, assistant professor, for the Minnesota Crop News website.
It is not very often that new species of insects are discovered in Midwest field crops. However, there has been some excitement lately among those who study soybean insects in the region.
Our investigations into potential management options for the soybean gall midge have led to the discovery of a new species of parasitic wasp associated with this pest in Minnesota soybean fields. We recently published a scientific paper describing this species and giving it the scientific name Synopeas maximum.
In general, species in the genus Synopeas are tiny wasps that parasitize (feed on) a group of flies called gall midges, of which soybean gall midge is a member. The “maximum” part of the new wasp’s name builds on the names of soybean (Glycine max) and the soybean gall midge (Resseliella maxima).
Because this species of wasp was so recently discovered, we still know very little about its biology and potential to control soybean gall midge populations. In additional research we confirmed that this wasp does indeed parasitize soybean gall midge and we’re exploring how its rates of parasitism of the soybean gall midge vary within fields and over the growing season.
The soybean gall midge itself is a recently discovered species of pest attacking soybean in Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri. This pest can cause significant yield reductions to soybean (especially on field edges) and its known range is expanding in the Midwest.