Spotted Wing Drosophila | Living the Country Life

Spotted Wing Drosophila

This tiny fly enjoys fresh fruit as much as you do
Photo courtesy of Michigan State University

The spotted wing drosophila is a type of fruit fly that has the potential to damage many fruit crops. The bug is an invasive species that has quickly spread around the entire country. It likes to dine on soft-skinned fruits such as strawberries, cherries, raspberries, and blueberries just as the crops become ripe.

Joe Hannan is an Extension horticulture field specialist at Iowa State University. He says you can buy pre-made traps to monitor the insect activity, or make your own with plastic cups.

"Punch in 4-5 holes around the top, punch in a couple of holes to put together a way to hang it in the foliage. I always use a little bit of apple cider vinegar, make sure it’s the real apple cider vinegar not the flavored stuff," says Hannan. "And then you can add a little bit of dish soap to that cider vinegar to trap and hold the fly."

Put the traps in a shady area within the fruit canopy about two-to-three-weeks before you start harvesting the fruit. Hannan says new research shows you should also put some in the border area.

"What they’re finding is that SWD doesn’t necessarily stay in the field all day long. It’s moving from the field and it’s moving out into that woodland area that borders next to you," he says. "So, stick a few of those traps in that in-between area and monitor that area first, because that’s where you’re most likely to find them. You’re also most likely to find the adults early morning, late evening."

There are no natural predators or pathogens to limit the population growth, but there are several registered chemicals that are effective for control. Sanitation is also a big tool in keeping insect numbers down. It’s very important that growers harvest their fruit in a timely manner and clean up any that falls to the ground or is left hanging on the plant.

Learn more about the spotted wing drosophila

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