Sorghum Midge, Contarinia sorghicola

Hosts: Grain sorghum and Johnson grass are the primary hosts, reported on and reared from 14 other grasses.
Symptoms: Larvae of the sorghum midge feed on the ovary, preventing normal seed development. Infested heads appear blighted or blasted and produce small, malformed grain.
Life Cycle: Sorghum midges overwinter as larvae in aborted sorghum spikelets. They spin cocoons inside the spikelets where they may remain in a resting stage, resistant to cold and desiccation for as long as 2 or 3 years. Under favorable conditions, however, pupation and emergence take place the following spring at about the time Johnson grass begins to bloom. After mating, each female then deposits 30 to 120 eggs, singly, in the flowering spikelets of this grass. The first two generations of the sorghum midge can be found on Johnson grass, after which a migration occurs to the flowering sorghum spikelets.
Description: The sorghum midge is an orange fly. Newly hatched larvae are colorless but change color as they feed. They gradually go from pink to orange to a darker orange or red-orange. The full-grown larva, 1.5 to 2.0 mm long, is slightly flattened and spindle-shaped, tapering to a point at the head. During the pupal stage, the head, antennae, legs and thorax darken until they become black and the abdomen is orange.
Control: Please contact your local county extension office for current information.
Return to Main page