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University of Florida Entomologists Introduce Bug to Eat Cogongrass
Midge Attacks Invasive Grass


Imperata cylindrica, also called cogongrass, is native to Asia, India, Australia, eastern and southern Africa, and surrounding regions. It was initially brought to the United States as a packing material and for livestock grazing. Credit: W.A. Djatmiko, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A team from the University of Florida has returned from a research trip with an Indonesian midge that they think can slow the spread of invasive cogongrass in the state.

Cogongrass spreads through small seeds that can be carried by the wind, equipment, and soil transport. It was first introduced to the United States intentionally in the early 1900s, but propagated quickly and choked out indigenous plants.

The research team brought back the Orseolia javanica midge, which causes cogongrass to produce tumor-like galls on its leaves. While the insect is known to be effective in controlling the grass in Indonesia, the arthropods brought back to Florida did not mate and increase in population.

The team's next step is to figure out how to raise the midge in a laboratory setting so they can be studied further as an alternative to herbicides.

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August 20, 2019, 6:42 pm PDT

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