Ohio fruit growers are on the watch for an invasive fly pest that could potentially wipe out their entire fruit crop.
In anticipation of the spotted wing drosophila, Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences recently held a grower field day to teach growers how to identify and manage it.
Among the information that experts provided was how to tell the invasive spotted wing drosophila from a common vinegar fly, a close relative, according to a news release.
"Early detection is a critical part of managing this pest,” Celese Welty, an Extension entomologist, said in the release.
Even with early detection, growers may have to spray weekly to save their crop.
Unlike many other fruit flies that prefer rotting fruit in which to lay eggs, spotted wing drosophila favors fruit nearing maturity.
The fly uses a saw-like ovipositor to pierce the fruit's skin and deposit the eggs.
The opening also provides an entryway for other organisms, such as fruit rot fungi.
Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed internally, rending the fruit unmarketable.
Among its preferred hosts are cherries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, peaches and plums. At times, it's also a pest for strawberries, pears, apples and cherry tomatoes.
In Michigan, many blueberry, bramble and strawberry growers reported up to 50 percent fruit loss in 2012, according to a report from Michigan State University Extension.
The pest has been confirmed in 37 Ohio counties last year, but it has yet to cause significant damage in the state.
For more management tips as well as instructions on how to make an inexpensive spotted wing drosophila monitoring trap, visit Ohio State University.