- Fruits: berries (blueberries)
- Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses
A survey study conducted in southern highbush blueberries during the 2012-2014 seasons showed that spotted wing drosophila is present in all of the seven major blueberry-producing counties surveyed in Florida. Grower awareness and proactive management have played a major role in the reduction of SWD in most counties. Trapping studies conducted in southern highbush blueberries in both high tunnel and organic field operations in 2012 and 2013 showed that the basic plastic cup trap (without yellow color or yellow sticky card modifications) proved an effective trap for SWD when baited with apple cider vinegar. Bait evaluations showed however, that yeast-based baits were more attractive to SWD than vinegar-based baits. Yeast-based baits remain non-specific to SWD and attract many other fly species, making identification more labor intensive. Field-based efficacy trials identified effective tools for control of SWD in blueberries. These tools can be used in rotation as part of a resistance management program for SWD.
Florida is a major producer of early-season blueberries. Although acreage is considered small (~ 4,500 acres) the industry is highly valued due to high market prices when berries begin ripening as early as March. During 2011, revenues were estimated at about $70 million USD. Despite the apparent success of this industry, a newly introduced pest, the Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) is threatening its integrity. Since its debut in Hillsborough County in 2009, SWD has spread to 26 counties, 8 of which are major blueberry growing regions. SWD is also threatening small fruits in other areas of the southeast including Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina.
Similar to other vinegar flies, SWD oviposits its eggs under the skin surface of thin- and soft-skinned fruits where larvae remain during development. Unlike most vinegar flies that prefer damaged or decaying fruit, the female SWD has a serrated ovipositor at the base of the abdomen that allows her to lay eggs in healthy, ripening fruit. Damage from SWD causes depressed scars on the fruit and rapid degradation from larval development, rendering fruit unmarketable. Blueberry growers in Florida and the southeast are in desperate need of an effective management program to suppress the activities of this fly. The goals of this project are to study the distribution and abundance of this pest in key blueberry counties throughout Florida, to develop an effective monitoring technique for SWD, and to identify reduced-risk insecticides that can be used to manage fly population in blueberries.
Obj. 1: To survey SWD in various blueberry growing regions and counties throughout Florida – completion date 2014
Obj. 2: To develop an effective monitoring system for SWD
a) To determine the most attractive bait to SWD – completion date 2013
b) To determine the most effective trap design for capturing SWD – completion date 2013
Obj. 3: To evaluate female SWD oviposition behavior
a) To determine viability of the most grown blueberry species in Florida, Rabbiteye and Southern Highbush, for larval development – completion date 2012
b) To determine susceptibility of different berry maturity stages to SWD oviposition – completion date 2012
Obj. 4: To identify reduced-risk insecticidal tools to control populations of SWD – completion date 2012