Texas fruit growers should be alert for spotted-wing fly

07/30/2014 09:38:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Catching the spotted wing drosophila fly early could save Texas fruit growers money and even their entire crop.

Although the pest at first glance may resemble vinegar flies, which more a nuisance than anything, the SWD is much more than an annoyance, according to a news release.

Unlike most fruit flies that seek out rotting fruit in which to lay eggs, this newcomer prefers fruit just reaching maturity.

Erfan Vafaie, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialist at Overton, trapped the pest in high-tunnels that are part of a strawberry sustainability project.

Of the 60 total flies caught, 29 were SWD, a rather high proportion, according to the release.

click image to zoomspotted wing drosophilaCourtesy Texas AgriLife ExtensionThis male spotted wing drosophila was one of 29 spotted wing flies caught in a trap near Overton, Texas.Vafaie is familiar with the pest, having worked in Canada where growers are aware of the pest and the associated damage.

He said he was surprised that Texas growers hadn't noticed them before.

“I thought it might have been because no one was looking for them," he said in the release.

Easy-to-make and inexpensive traps can give you a heads up when the fly is present.

By catching it early, growers can treat and prevent populations from exploding.

Vafaie is asking growers in Texas who suspect they have trapped SWD to send him samples.

Place suspect flies into a sealable plastic container with 70 percent or higher isopropyl alcohol, which will help preserve the flies. Do not use plastic bags as they may leak.

The U.S. Post Office won't deliver live insects, either.

Include as much information as possible, such as your name, date, contact information, where it was found, on which crop and nearby crops.

Mail the package to: Erfan Vafaie, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 1710 Farm-to-Market Road 3053 North, Overton, TX 75684

For more information about shipping or identification of specimens, contact Vafaie at 903-834-6191 or erfan.vafaie@ag.tamu.edu.



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