Be Sure to Monitor for Spotted Wing Drosophila in Strawberry and Brambles This Year

Jerry Brust, IPM Vegetable Specialist, University of Maryland; jbrust@umd.edu

By now everyone should know that the newest invasive pest, the spotted wing drosophila (SWD), is here in the mid-Atlantic. It was found heavily infesting blackberries and raspberries in central Maryland this past summer and fall. Just about everywhere we trapped for it (I am still trapping adults in February in brambles, SWD overwinter as adults) we have found it on the western shore. We know it is on the eastern shore through trapping efforts by the University of Delaware. What we do not know about the eastern shore is how bad SWD infestations might be this coming season. The first crop that may get hit is strawberries. Information from Oregon and Michigan shows that their strawberries are not attacked to any great extent, but we DO NOT know what the fly may do to our strawberry crop. That is why it would be prudent to put SWD traps out and monitor for the adult flies. Males have a spot at the end of their wings (Photo 1), females do not (Photo 2), but the females do have a strong ovipositor they use to saw into non ripe fruit and lay their eggs—which is why they are such a devastating pest.

Most growers we visited did not think they had SWD on their farm and yet we found it everywhere we looked. The damage is often mistaken for early rotting berries or fruit (Photo 3). Early control is essential, if this fly is allowed to build its population through the summer into the early fall it will be very difficult to control and will be present on your farm basically forever. There are several web sites you can use to build your own traps (just Google spotted wing drosophila traps), or you could ask for help from me or your Extension educator about trapping. The key is to use a very common, inexpensive product as bait in the traps – apple cider vinegar. Traps should be placed in the field within the plant canopy, out of the sun if possible, and checked once a week for flies. Some traps should be located near the edge of the strawberry field and others along a woods edge. There will be many fly species in the trap, if you are not sure you have SWD take it to your local Extension educator for identification.

Photo 1. SWD adult male

Photo 2. SWD adult female

Photo 3. SWD damage to blackberries

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