Research on soybean pests. Closeup of aphids.

2022-23 Rapid Ag: Evaluating Biological Control for Soybean Gall Midge, a New Pest of Soybean in Minnesota

February 19, 2021

Project Leader

Robert Koch, Department of Entomology

Team Members 

  • Amelia Lindsey, Department of Entomology
  • Bruce Potter, Extension IPM Specialist

Non-Technical Summary

This project aims to characterize the impact of natural enemies (predators and parasitic wasps) on populations of soybean gall midge, Resseliella maxima. Soybean gall midge is a new pest of unknown origin and poses a significant threat to soybean production in the Minnesota. This pest infests the stems of soybean plants and has caused considerable yield reductions in multiple states. Research is urgently needed to understand the potential for biological control of this pest. Over two years, soybean fields will be sampled for this pest and its natural enemies. To quantify parasitism, parasitic wasps will be reared from field-collected soybean gall midge larvae in the laboratory and field-collected larvae and pupae will be assessed for parasitism through dissection and a molecular-based assay. Predatory insects will be collected from soybean plants and pitfall traps in the fields, and molecular gut-content analyses performed on them to assess predation on soybean gall midge. Data will be analyzed to examine the temporal dynamics and density dependence of the communities of natural enemies and their impacts on soybean gall midge populations. This knowledge on biological control of soybean gall midge will be essential for the development of integrated pest management programs for this pest.

Objectives and Goals

Goal 1 - Characterize the community and impacts of parasitic wasps attacking soybean gall midge

  • Objective 1: Characterize the diversity of parasitic wasps
  • Objective 2: Determine seasonal dynamics of parasitism rates
  • Objective 3: Evaluate relationship of parasitism with host density

Goal 2: Characterize the community and impacts of predators attacking soybean gall midge

  • Objective 1: Characterize the diversity of predators
  • Objective 2: Determine seasonal dynamics of predator density and predation rates
  • Objective 3: Evaluate relationship of predator density and predation with prey density


The soybean gall midge, Resseliella maxima (Cecidomyiidae) is a new, potentially devastating pest of soybean (Gagné et al. 2019, Potter and Koch 2019). Soybean gall midge larvae infest the stems of soybean plants (Gagné et al. 2019). Infestations cause wilting, lodging and death of soybean plants, and have resulted in significant yield reductions in Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska (Gagné et al. 2019; unpublished data). Because this pest is new to science, there is a complete lack of knowledge about biological control (i.e., use of a pest’s natural enemies to help prevent and suppress infestations) for this pest.

Biological control is a basic subdiscipline underlying integrated pest management (IPM) programs for pests. Knowledge of the roles of different natural enemies on pest population dynamics facilitate prediction of pest outbreaks and identify key natural enemy species to target for various types of manipulations that can increase pest suppression (Pedigo and Rice 2014). Other management options for soybean gall midge, such as insecticides, appear generally ineffective and varietal resistance has not been observed (Potter and Koch 2019). Therefore, additional management strategies like biological control must be explored. Review of the literature on related gall midges, including other Resseliella spp., suggests that biological control may be a viable option for suppression of this pest (Hawkins & Gagné 1989). Gall midges may be parasitized by several families of parasitic wasps. In a preliminary survey, DNA from two genera of parasitic wasps were detected in soybean gall midge samples from Minnesota in 2019 (McMechan et al. unpublished). In addition, predatory insects could also play a role in their biological control (Floate et al. 1990). The natural pest suppression offered by biological control has proven to provide economic benefits to farmers in numerous systems by decreasing insecticide input, while protecting from pest-induced yield loss.


  • Doane, JF, et al. 1989. Description of the life stages of Macroglenes penetrans (Kirby) (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea, Pteromalidae), a parasitoid of the wheat midge, Sitodiplosis mosellana (Gehin) (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae). Can Entomol 121:1041-1048.
  • Floate, KD, et al. 1990. Carabid predators of the wheat midge (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) in Saskatchewan. Environ Entomol 19:1503-1511.
  • Fox, TB, et al. 2005. Impact of predation on establishment of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines in soybean, Glycine max. Biocontrol 50:545-563.
  • Gagné, RJ, et al. 2019. A new pest species of Resseliella (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) on soybean (Fabaceae) in North America with a description of the genus. Proc Entomol Soc Wash 121:168-177.
  • Greenstone, MH, et al. 2012. Removing external DNA contamination from arthropod predators destined for molecular gut-content analysis. Mol Ecol Res 12:464- 469.
  • King, R, et al. 2008. Molecular analysis of predation: a review of best practice for DNA-based approaches. Mol Ecol 17:947-963.
  • Hawkins, BA, RJ Gagné 1989, Determinants of assemblage size for the parasitoids of Cecidomyiidae (Diptera). Oecologia. 81:75-88.
  • Nilsson, T. 2008. Raspberry cane midge (Resseliella theobaldi (Barnes)) biology, control methods and monitoring. Master’s Thesis. Swedish Univ Agric Sci 29 pp.
  • Noma, T, MJ Brewer. 2008. Seasonal abundance of resident parasitoids and predatory flies and corresponding soybean aphid densities, with comments on classical biological control of soybean aphid in the Midwest. J Econ Entomol 101:278-287.
  • Potter, B, RL Koch. 2019. Soybean gall midge in Minnesota soybean. Univ of Minnesota Extension.
  • Roubos, CR, OE Liburd. 2013. Parasitism of Dasineura oxycoccana (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) in north central Florida. Environ Entomol 42:424-429.
  • Vétek, G, et al. 2006. Interrelationship between the raspberry cane midge, Resseliella theobaldi (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) and its parasitoid, Aprostocetus epicharmus (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae). Bull Entomol Res 96:367-372.
  • Zhang, GF, et al. 2007. Real‐time PCR quantification of Bemisia tabaci (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) B‐biotype remains in predator guts. Mol Ecol Notes 7:947-954.