Sunflower midges are tiny, tan-colored flies that can infest sunflower crops in central Canada and the United States. Damage to the plant is caused by the larvae feeding on the sunflower head. Severe damage can leave the sunflower heads looking deformed. The life-cycle of the midges can affect crops in both early and late summer. Crop management, such as rotation and planting time, is the best method of controlling this pest, because insecticides have proven ineffective.
- Sunflower midges cause reduction in yield of seeds and oil in the Great Plains areas of the US and Canada.
- The larvae hatch on the leaf bracts surrounding the bud, and eat their way into the center.
- The best way to control sunflower midges is with crop rotation and staggered plantings.
“To identify sunflower midge damage, look for brown scar tissue on the bracts, the small green leaves just below the sunflower head.”