Evaluation of a Push–Pull Strategy for Spotted-Wing Drosophila Management in Highbush Blueberry

Project Type: Research Only
Funds awarded in 2022: $199,868.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2025
Grant Recipient: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona
Rutgers University
The spotted-wing drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii, is an invasive pest of soft-skinned fruits that has rapidly spread across the globe and causes hundreds of millions of dollars in crop losses worldwide. Today, the management of SWD heavily relies on the application of synthetic pesticides, which are potentially hazardous to humans, animals, other organisms, and the environment. A natural-product-based sustainable integrated pest management approach is urgently needed to reduce conventional synthetic pesticide usages. A promising behavior-based control method is the “push–pull” strategy, which uses a repellent to drive pests away from fruits (push) and towards SWD attractant-baited mass trapping devices (pull). Methyl benzoate, a naturally occurring chemical found in many plants and FDA-approved food additives, was found to be repellent to SWD in laboratory tests. In this study, we tested whether this compound could also be used to protect blueberries from SWD injury in the field. Our results demonstrated that methyl benzoate as a spatial repellent/oviposition deterrent can be deployed in blueberry fields to reduce the damage caused by SWD, although this repellent is not sufficient to act as a control strategy alone and will need to be integrated with other strategies to provide adequate protection to growers.
Peer-reviewed Journal Article
Cody C. Gale
Beth Ferguson
Cesar Rodriquez-Saona
Vonnie D.C. Shields
Aijun Zhang
Target audience:
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.