Aquilegia gall midge

Aquilegia gall midge causes distortion to the flower buds of aquilegia  and can reduce its ability to produce healthy flowers. First reported in Britain in 2009, the midge is becoming widespread in southern Britain.

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Aquilegia gall midge

Quick facts

Common name Aquilegia gall midge
Latin name Macrolabis aquilegiae
Plants affected Aquilegia species and cultivars
Main symptoms Deformed flowers that fail to open fully
Caused by Larvae of a small fly

What is aquilegia gall midge?

Aquilegia gall midge is a tiny fly that lays eggs on the developing flowers buds of aquilegia. During May and June the feeding activities of the larvae inside flower buds result in distorted flowers that fail to fully open.

Symptoms

If the foliage of your aquilegia appears normal but the flowers are swollen and distorted then aquilegia gall midge is almost certainly the cause. Numerous pale orange or white maggots, 2-3mm long, may be found inside the buds.

Control

There is currently no control for this insect other than the removal of infested flower buds. This should be done regularly, to remove larvae before they have completed their feeding and exited the flower to drop to the soil. Damage by this insect comes to an end during June, with later flowers escaping unharmed. This midge is specific to aquilegia and will not affect any other plants.

Biology

As it is a relatively new insect in Britain, little is known about its biology. However, it is specific to aquilegia and will not affect any other plants.

This midge has only one generation per year. Adults emerge in the spring and lay eggs on the developing flower buds. The larval feeding period is likely to be short, occurring over a few weeks in May and June, after which the maggots drop down into the soil to pupate.

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