Enjoying a glass of sweet tea and an ice cold bowl of blackberries picked from your own backyard garden is something many gardeners look forward to in summer.
Unfortunately growers in Missouri will know that an uninvited new insect pest has made its presence known in the state of Missouri — a pest with the potential to cause damage not only to home garden small fruit crops, but also economic damage to commercial growers.
The spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) is a small fly that has recently been found throughout the state of Missouri.
The fly, which is native of Asia, has been causing damage to crops on the West Coast for the past five years prior to coming to Missouri.
Why this fly is so harmful to small fruit crops is because the female spotted wing drosophila can actually penetrate the skin of stone fruit and small fruits especially blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, laying her eggs which develop into tiny maggots which feed on the inside of the fruit, making it not desirable for consumption.
Specialists stress to growers that proper identification of the pest at your location should be done prior to using preventative insecticides to control the adult flies.
Lincoln University recommends monitoring with modified sticky traps and sugar water bait. Once flies are caught on these sticky traps, they can be properly identified by specific features of both male and female flies.
For more information on identification and constructing a monitoring device, see Lincoln University's fact sheet at: http://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2013/8/Detecting-larval-infestations-and-insecticidal-options-for-Spotted-Wing-Drosophila-a-significant-pest-of-small-fruit-crops-in-Missouri/Spotted_Wing_Drosophila.pdf
A fruit grower should never rely solely on one pest management strategy but should incorporate as many recommended strategies as is practical for their production site to help limit damage from this pest.
Best strategies include removing overripe fruit, excluding the pest from the plants, using a preventative insecticide application and removing weeds such as Amur honeysuckle, whose fruit can also be attractive to this fly pest.
In horticulture there are always new pests and diseases to control. Since this pest is new to the state of Missouri this summer, continuing research on this pest will be managed by Dr. Jaime Pinero and Lincoln University.
If you are interested in more information regarding the spotted wing drosophila, see the following article online written by Pinero and Patrick Byers: http://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2013/8/Integrated-Pest-Management-of-Spotted-Wing-Drosophila-with-Emphasis-in-High-Tunnel-Grown-Fall-Bearing-Primocane-Raspberries/