Spatio-temporal distribution and management of Drosophila suzukii in Louisiana mayhaw

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2023: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
Region: Southern
State: Louisiana
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jeffrey Davis
Louisiana State University
Dr. Nupur Sarkar
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at Beaumont


  • Fruits: Mayhaw


  • Pest Management: integrated pest management

    Proposal abstract:

    The aim of this project is to monitor and control spotted wing drosophila in Louisiana’s native mayhaws to strengthen economic and environmental sustainability. The Louisiana fruit industry is unique by having a native mayhaw market. Mayhaws are fruits of the native thorny hawthorn trees (Crataegus spp.). Owing to its acidic swamp soil, Louisiana is thought to be the birthplace of mayhaw from where it spreads to other swampy golf coast states (Correll and Correll 1975). Mayhaw now has made the transition from a wild fruit to a predominantly farm-raised orchard crop and is used to make locally produced jellies and juices. Along with farmers, many homeowners in Louisiana add mayhaw trees to their landscape for their spectacular early spring blooms. Mayhaw growers in Louisiana are now encountering spotted wing drosophila (SWD) surge in their orchards. Spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii (Matsmura)) is an invasive pest threatening the soft-skinned fruit industry in the United States. Previous SWD research has focused on globally important fruit crops with little work done on native fruit plants like mayhaws. Bright red or yellow color, thin-skin qualified mayhaws as an excellent host for SWD biology and research out of Europe indicated trees in the same genus as mayhaw have been attacked by SWD (Kenis et al., 2016). Considering the wide host range, it is essential to explore SWD population in native fruit hosts like mayhaws in developing a more sustainable Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach. Wild native fruits will act as bridging species between commercial fruit crops and maintain populations of this invasive pest. This proposal has dual aims: first, to monitor SWDs in wild and commercial mayhaw orchards to map infestation timing and patterns of migration from wild mayhaws to other fruit crops and second, to validate the use of SPLAT (Specialized Pheromone and Lure Application Technology), a low risk attract & kill approach to manage this invasive species in Louisiana mayhaw production systems. The attract & kill technology is a combination of semiochemicals (attractant) and lethal insecticides (kill) (Gregg et al., 2018) that will not only manage the SWDs in the orchards but also make insecticide application easier and environmentally friendly for mayhaw farmers. Mayhaws are 20-30 ft tall fruit trees making it difficult to cover the entire canopy with a hose-end sprayer, so farmers often rely on systemic insecticides. Using attract and kill technology can facilitate more targeted insecticide applications, reducing the time and cost of the farmers, and improving environmental quality. Another important objective of this proposal is to spread awareness about SWD damage among farmers and share the results through field days and society meetings. Although SWD is a widely studied pest of thin-skinned fruits, there is a lack of knowledge about its damage and management in mayhaw growers. Through our project, Louisiana mayhaw growers will be familiar with and trained to recognize SWD damage and control its population through a sustainable, low-risk approach.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1: Monitor for SWD in commercial mayhaw orchards (cooperating farms) and wild mayhaw in Louisiana.


    Objective 2: Construct SWD life tables on mayhaw fruits.


    Objective 3: Validate SPLAT for managing SWDs in mayhaws through laboratory and on-farm trials.


    Objective 4: Present data at the annual Commercial Fruit and Vegetable Field Day at the LSU AgCenter Botanical Gardens and publish extension brochures and peer-reviewed articles.

    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.