Exploring Novel Natural Products for the Development of Push-Pull Systems to Manage Spotted-Wing Drosophila

Project Overview

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

Information Products


  • Fruits: berries (blueberries)


  • Pest Management: integrated pest management

    Proposal abstract:

    a. Problem, Novel Approach, and Justification

    The invasion of spotted-wing drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura), into the Northeast USA in 2011 has severely disrupted small fruit Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs. Native to Southeast Asia, SWD has become the most important insect pest of small fruits throughout the USA. SWD attacks a wide variety of fruit crops, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries, with a combined annual value of over $5.8 billion in the USA, and causes losses that exceed $718 million annually. Currently, growers rely on a single management strategy—aggressive, calendar-based conventional insecticide applications. We propose a more sustainable alternative method for SWD control based on behavior manipulation called push-pull, which combines the use of an attractant (the pull component) with a repellent/deterrent compound (the push component). Adoption of an effective push-pull system by conventional, organic, and U-pick growers, should drastically reduce the frequency of conventional insecticide applications and thus reduce operating costs, suppress the development of insecticide-resistant populations, and minimize negative impacts on biological control agents. Our project addresses the #1 research priority for small fruits for the Northeastern IPM Center, which is “new and emerging pests.” Based on stakeholder feedback, future research should focus on the development of behavior-based strategies, such as push-pull, which is the goal of this proposal.


    b. Objectives, Questions, and Research Plan

    Our overarching goal is to develop an innovative push-pull system for SWD that will reduce reliance on insecticide use in conventional, organic, and U-pick small fruit operations. Our system will reduce environmental risks and increase sustainability and profitability of the small fruit industry currently jeopardized by this invasive species in the Northeast.

    We will address the following questions in laboratory and field experiments:

    (1) Test the repellency efficacy of novel natural and biorational products. Do compounds from fungal pathogens and fermented apple juice act as repellents, oviposition deterrents, and/or toxins for SWD? Do new biorational compounds repel SWD?

    (2) Demonstrate the efficacy of activators of crop defenses on SWD. Do commercially available activators of crop defenses reduce preference and performance of SWD in fruits?

    (3) Develop a novel push-pull strategy. Does the combination of attractants and repellents reduce SWD infestation?


    c. Outreach plan

    We will disseminate information through presentations at regional grower meetings, newsletter articles, field demonstrations, and factsheets. We will conduct two webinars: one on SWD biology, ecology, and management and another on behavior-based strategies to manage SWD. Information will be posted at the StopSWD.org website http://www.stopswd.org/index.cfm, hosted by the NE IPM Center. We will create two short 4-min videos and conduct two surveys (at the beginning and at the end of the project) to measure changes in farmer knowledge and their willingness to adopt our proposed approaches.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    To reduce farmer reliance on insecticides in Northeastern USA small fruit crops, we will develop and provide recommendations on a new, environmentally friendly push-pull strategy to manage SWD. Here, we will: (1) test the efficacy of novel natural repellents/oviposition deterrents/toxins for SWD, (2) demonstrate the efficacy of commercially available activators of crop defenses to reduce SWD fruit infestation, and (3) develop a novel and effective push-pull strategy that will combine repellents/oviposition deterrents/toxins with an existing attractant-and-kill approach. Our proposed Extension plan will allow novel and sustainable behavior-based approaches to be adopted by conventional, organic, and U-pick farmers in the Northeast.


    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.