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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.
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Spotted Wing Drosophila

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Spotted Wing Drosophila

The presence of the new fruit pest spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) has been confirmed in Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. University of Illinois Extension Educators Kelly Allsup – Horticulture and Chris Konieczka – Local Food Systems and Small Farms, conducted a trapping program with the assistance of Master Gardeners in each county. Spotted wing drosophila is an invasive species of fruit fly from Asia that has been moving across the United States since it was first found in California in 2008. Unlike other fruit flies that lay eggs in overripe or rotten fruit, this insect is capable of laying eggs in unripe fruit of raspberry, blackberry, tomato, apple, and other fruit crops. As larvae hatch inside fruits they can destroy fruit quality and yield. This pest is a major concern for fruit producers across the country, and now including Central Illinois.

Local concern about the movement of spotted wing drosophila began when Allsup and Woodford County Master Gardener Bruce Brown received a call about 'white worms' in raspberries. Initially, the problem could not be identified. Consultation with University of Illinois Extension Entomologist Rick Weinzierl uncovered that the 'worms' were really larvae of the invasive pest spotted wing drosophila. The first discovery of an exotic pest in the area led to Allsup and Konieczka initiating a trapping program across the three counties to determine whether it was present in multiple locations. A total of 27 traps (9 per county) were dispersed based on gardeners and farmers growing crops that are attacked by spotted wing drosophila. When traps were returned after ten days, only two did not contain the insect.

Chris and Kelly along with other University of Illinois Extension Educators will work to educate local farmers and gardeners about the new pest, and its recommended options for control. Spotted wing drosophila are expected to overwinter in Central Illinois. Early detection of the pest is very important, as populations grow larger as the season progresses. A variety of cultural practices can be used to reduce the damage from crop infestation including, removal of alternate host plants like pokeweed and wild grape, timely harvest, and removing overripe fruit. Recommendations for effective chemical controls for commercial and backyard growers will be made in spring. Yellow sticky cards in a trap baited with apple cider vinegar are the common practice for detection of this pest. If a positive confirmation of spotted wing drosophila is found in your field, contact the extension office for current recommended controls. Please be aware that some chemicals that control fruit pests have major negative consequences for pollinators.

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