Sask. scientists solve mystery and discover new insect species in canola crops

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WATCH ABOVE: A newly discovered insect species isn't believed to be harmful to canola crops but scientists say they will need to study it further – Feb 26, 2019

Call it human nature but many of us have a fascination with the unknown.

It’s something we marvel over, as new and wonderful things continue to be discovered all over the planet.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan designates emerald ash borer an insect pest

Recently, a scientific mystery was solved by a researcher in Saskatoon who realized he had uncovered an entirely new species of insect as a result.

“We added a new species to the list,” said Dr. Boyd Mori, with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

“For people in Saskatchewan, it might be disheartened because it was found on canola but so far it’s not causing very much damage.”

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World-wide there are an estimated 1.5 million different species of insects that already exists, some believe as many as 10 million.

Dr. Boyd Mori, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, discovered a new species of insect among canola crops. File / Global News

According to Mori, a scientist of insect ecology and population genetics, the midge was detected in the prairie provinces and has two life cycles.

It was in 2016, when he and others started to think something was out of sorts with the swede midge, a common pest known for causing crop damage to canola.

READ MORE: USask research on apparent hungry slugs reveals new timeline for life on Earth

It turns out it was really a case of mistaken identity as DNA would prove that the team was dealing with a little fly no one had ever laid eyes on.

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“We’re calling it the Canola Flower Midge to keep it simple,” Mori said.

The insect has been named Contarinia brassicola – also known as the Canola Flower Midge. File / Global News

Researchers will continue to study the insect to see how much of a threat it is, from all indications so far it isn’t that detrimental but if it is – they want to find ways to reduce the potential damage it could cause to canola crops.

“Nature changes just because we’re not seeing the devastation right now, doesn’t mean we couldn’t see it down the road,” said Shawn Senko, with the Canola Council of Canada.

Armed with this new knowledge, the industry will have a better handle on what’s causing crop damage should the species strike and what control measures to put in place.

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According to Senko, canola contributes $26 billion to the Canadian economy every year and the industry involves 43,000 producers.

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