Protecting Michigan’s fruit from invasive spotted wing drosophila

Michigan State University researches effective ways to manage spotted wing drosophila from destroying fruit production.

October 1, 2017 - Author: Mindy Tape

A spotted wing drosophila under a microscope.

Michigan ranks first and fourth, respectively, in tart and sweet cherry production and third in blueberry production in the U.S. Both industries have a zero-tolerance policy for larvae in fruit. Detections of the invasive pest, spotted wing drosophila (SWD), result in rejection of fruit and economic losses for farmers.

Lab research indicates SWD can turn over a generation in as little as five days, allowing them to spread rapidly, having great potential to devastate Michigan’s blueberry and cherry industries. SWD has been the primary pest in Michigan blueberries since 2011 and losses are rapidly growing in cherries, causing cherry growers to double pest management costs.

Research efforts at Michigan State University focus on finding the most effective management solutions for SWD. Controlling SWD requires significant changes in growers’ traditional pest management practices, including when and how often to spray insecticides. MSU Extension offers workshops and educational meetings to assist growers with pest management decisions and reduce risks associated with SWD. Growers who attended the meetings indicated:

  • 82% improved their SWD management knowledge.
  • 100% indicated SWD as their farm’s major source of economic losses.
  • 69% of growers participating in MSU Extension training reported no crop losses from SWD.

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