Field Assessment of a Novel Behavioral Disruptor for Spotted Wing Drosophila Management in Northeastern Berry Crops

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2020: $29,999.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2023
Grant Recipient: University of Vermont
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Victor Izzo
University of Vermont
Scott Lewins
University of Vermont


  • Fruits: berries (blueberries), berries (brambles), berries (other), berries (strawberries)


  • Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management, mating disruption, other
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    The spotted wing Drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii, is a highly invasive insect pest widely distributed throughout the Northeast (and much of the continental USA). Current SWD management recommendations for the Northeastern region lean heavily upon consistently scheduled chemical applications throughout the harvest season. Both the ecological and economic costs of chemical dependence are well documented (e.g. pesticide resistance, non-target organisms, etc.) and are a valid concern. The recent success of a novel food-grade, biodegradable SWD attractant, developed by researchers at Oregon State University, represents a great opportunity to add a new and potentially highly effective alternative to the currently available tactics. Recent preliminary studies from early prototypes deployed on Oregon berry farms suggest these attractant baits can significantly affect SWD behavior and last for up to 21 days. Developers of this innovative tool estimate that these baits exhibit  the potential to reduce pesticide dependency “by at least 50% during the cropping season”.Our project seeks to assess the utility and economic viability of this recently developed low-tech tool for the management of spotted wing Drosophila and develop appropriate protocols to best adapt this technology for use on Northeastern berry farms. In concert with our field trials we will also develop a robust outreach program in line with our participatory action research (PAR) agenda. Our educational program will rely upon research site field days, presentations, individual and remote consultations, and extension workshops to best disseminate our results and inform growers of the most appropriate SWD management options.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to assess the utility of a recently developed low-tech attractant bait, “Decoy" fruit, for the management of spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) within berry crops on Northeastern farms. 

    Specifically, our project will look to answer two research questions: 1) How does the application of “Decoy” fruits within berry orchards affect the egg-laying behavior of SWD in berry crops located in New England? And 2) What is the potential of this novel approach for reducing SWD impact on average marketable yields and net revenue for growers with significant investments in berry crops? 

    This project will provide northeastern growers direct information on the potential of this novel management strategy for reducing SWD damage within berry crops. Furthermore, if our field trials exhibit comparable results to those documented by our collaborators in the Pacific Northwestern growing region of the USA, we will look to develop region specific protocols for the successful use of this novel technology. Ideally this project will add to the currently available IPM tactics for susceptible growers looking to reduce their dependence on chemical controls. 

    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.