Hessian fly
Mayetiola destructor


For More Information on Hessian fly: 
(including Fly-safe planting dates and resistant varieties of wheat)
University of Nebraska Extension

Status in Nebraska:
The Hessian fly is found in Nebraska

This insect was given its common name by Americans because of its damage on Long Island in 1779. The pest has become distributed throughout the United States wheat production areas since then.  
In Nebraska, most damage has been in the eastern half of the state but has occurred as far west as Ogallala.

Origin and Time of Introduction:
Most likely introduced by Hessian soldiers during the revolutionary war. 

Common Characteristics:
Adults are gray, with fragile appearing appendages and because of this have been compared with mosquitoes in appearance. Adult life span is around 3 days with two generations per year, one occurring in spring and the other occurring in fall.

Environmental Impact:
Damage is done by the larval stage; toxins in the salivary glands interfere with normal growth. It can reduce yields and lower the quality of the grain.

Control practices are most effective if integrated, as is the case with most insects. These methods include: Elimination of volunteer wheat (a late summer host of the fly), Fly safe planting dates and resistant varieties of wheat. Insecticides have not proven economically viable because of the sporadic occurrence of infestations.

The Hessian fly is one of the most destructive insect pests of wheat in the United States. Severe infestations are sporadic in Nebraska with the greatest damage potential occurring in the eastern half of the state.  Although the Hessian fly is injurious chiefly to wheat, at times it damages barley, rye and triticale. It has been found in grasses, but does not infest them heavily, and does not attack oats.