- Fruits: berries (blueberries), berries (other)
- Crop Production: food product quality/safety
- Education and Training: decision support system, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
- Pest Management: biological control, field monitoring/scouting
The spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, has become recognized as an invasive species of concern not only in Georgia, but across the United States. The host plants of spotted wing drosophila (SWD) include berry fruits, such as blueberries. SWD is able to deposit its eggs into the ripening fruit causing a dramatic decrease in yield, while also allowing the larvae to survive various insecticide applications within the berry. As a recently introduced species there is little research available to provide an integrated pest management (IPM) program in efforts of protecting fruit industries. Information regarding native predators of SWD located in the Southeastern United States will facilitate the implementation of effective control programs. This will be completed through a series of field studies. Nine experimental sites will be selected that represent different management strategies including conventional agricultural fields, organic fields, and untreated fields. Within each agricultural system, the field margin, field interior, and associated border habitats with non-crop hosts will be evaluated. Experiments will determine the presence of native parasitoids, SWD activity, and predator activity. Molecular gut-content analysis will be performed in order to determine prey consumption of the native predators across habitats. The impacts on local population dynamics will also be examined through spatial analysis. This research has the potential to protect the blueberry industry across the nation, as well as improve biological control strategies.
- To determine how different management strategies and alternative SWD host plants affect populations of natural enemies and populations of SWD in blueberry production systems. Performance target for this objective is to determine where natural enemies in blueberry agricultural landscapes are most abundant and diverse, and identify ways to feasibly improve the current biocontrol services.
- Estimate predation and parasitism levels on SWD and determine which identified biocontrol species have the potential to enhance control of SWD in the Southeast. Performance target for this objective is to determine if natural enemies observed are providing biocontrol services for SWD and other pests of blueberries. This will be accomplished using molecular gut content analysis and bate stations to estimate parasitoid activity in blueberry fields in relation to management and location within field.