Monday, March 10, 2014

Asian fruit fly new pest to threaten NM growers

A new pest has arrived in New Mexico, and a New Mexico State University entomologist says the insect could spell trouble for soft-fruit growers. Tessa Grasswitz, NMSU Extension integrated pest management specialist, reports that the Asian fruit fly Drosophila suzukii, commonly known as the spotted wing drosophila, was found in three locations in the Los Lunas area last summer. “The arrival of this invasive insect is going to be tough on New Mexico growers,” Grasswitz said. “Cane fruits, like blackberries and raspberries, used to be good money spinners for our producers because they are high-value crops with no serious native pest problems. But this new insect is going to impact growers’ revenue.” The spotted wing drosophila was first detected in California in 2009. Since then, it has spread across the country and has been present in some of the major fruit-producing states, including Oregon, Washington and Michigan, for some years. The small fly lays its eggs in ripe or ripening fruits of cherry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, grape and similar crops. “We first found the insect in mid-August last year, Grasswitz said. “And if the experiences of other states are anything to go by, we can expect it to become much more widely distributed in New Mexico this year.” Because of its short life cycle, the spotted wing drosophila can complete multiple generations during a growing season, so it can build up very quickly. Growers in other states are spraying every week throughout the fruiting season to control the fly. They have to target the adults, because the eggs and larvae are protected inside the fruit...more

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