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Helping growers (video)
Study of new fruit pest focuses on life cycle
Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010
By Matt Haugen, News Service
MOUNT VERNON - WSU is in its first season of studying a new, potentially devastating fruit pest.
Although it's too early to know the economic impact, researchers are trying to provide growers with effective means of controlling the fly Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura) or spotted wing drosophila (SWD), said Lynell Tanigoshi, an entomologist at WSU’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center in Mount Vernon.
Research is addressing a wide range of grower pest management philosophies, from organic and sustainable to a conventional approach, he said. But it’s going to take time to understand how to exploit the flies’ life cycle to a preventive advantage. Understanding the fly’s biology is key to management, he said.
SWD made its way from California and Oregon and was first found in Washington in Puyallup strawberries. It has traveled quickly on the west side of the state, threatening berries and small fruits. There is concern it could adapt and infest east side crops, as well.
“We feel that there are probably populations that are adapting to the climate," Tanigoshi said. "Some of these stronger ones, I think, will be the progenitors of populations that may adapt … into our high value grape, and blueberry, and cherry industry on the east side.”
Named after the spots on its wings, SWD infests healthy soft fruits with its eggs, allowing bacteria entry and causing premature fruit decomposition and ruined market value.
Until the arrival of SWD, most of the state's fruit pests were indirect pests - damaging foliage, stems or roots rather than fruit, Tanigoshi said.
A $1.2 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Research Initiative grant is helping researchers study the spread of SWD. Read an earlier article here.
Find more about SWD from WSU Extension here.