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Managing SWD – a fly of mass destruction

| May 9, 2018
DROPSA project Team

Members of the DROPSA projects team at the recent International Soft Fruit Conference, Den Bosch, Netherlands. From left to right: Joanna Pulawska (Poland), Joël Pothier (Switzerland), Jean-Luc Gatti (France), Herman Helsen (The Netherlands), Marcel Wenneker (The Netherlands), and Andreas von Felten (Switzerland).

There are approximately 1,500 known species in the genus Drosophila. Although sometimes called fruit flies, true fruit flies belong to the family Tephritidae and are larger in size. The majority of Drosophila flies are associated with rotten or over-ripened fruits and are nuisance pests. However, a few species such as the Spotted-Wing Drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura), can infest un-ripened fruits. SWD adults are small yellowish-brown flies with red eyes. The common name originates from the males that have a distinguishing dark spot along the front edge of each wing.

Native to southeast Asia, SWD is widely distributed in China, India, Korea, Myanmar, Russia and Thailand. First detected within the continental United States in 2008 and Europe in 2009, as an invasive pest SWD was quickly recognised as presenting a major phytosanitary risk to the fruit industry, threatening fruit production and potentially causing substantial economic losses. Since its arrival, SWD has continued to spread and despite numerous international research activities, there remains a pressing need for effective, innovative and practical control solutions. It has been clear for some years, that the eradication or containment of SWD is no longer possible and its spread from the initial outbreak areas, to other fruit producing areas is ever increasing.

The development of targeted integrated pest management (IPM) is vital to minimise the economic impact of SWD on fruit producers. One cross border initiative, the EU-DROPSA project, sought to address the challenges faced by the fruit industry by creating new knowledge and understanding of the damage and losses of fruit crops due to SWD. The DROPSA consortium consisted of 26 partners from Europe, Asia, New Zealand and North America and was a 4-year project running from January 2013 until December 2017, and funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme.

At the annual International Soft Fruit Conference in den Bosch, the European members of the Dropsa project presented some of their findings to the industry.

Spotted-Wing Drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura), can infest un-ripened fruits and are of economic significance. The name originates from the males that have a distinguishing dark spot along the front edge of each wing.

DROPSA: Strategies to develop effective, innovative and practical approaches to protect major European fruit crops

Neil Audsley (Fera Science Ltd., UK)

Drosophila suzukii poses major challenges to fruit production and is causing substantial economic losses. SWD infestations have resulted in losses over €8m in fruit crops in northern Italy alone, in 2010 and 2011 and more than €1.5m in French strawberries in 2011. In the US damage has been estimated at over €400m per year.

The pathways of introduction and spread of SWD and pathogens into the EU have been determined and preventative strategies and recommendations against the introduction of other dangerous fruit pests and pathogens have been developed…

This is an extract of the full article published in International Pest Control – January/February 2018 issue.

Read full article online on page 26

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Category: Horticulture-Amenity

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