Spotted-Wing Drosophila in Blueberries
Spotted-wing drosophila, an invasive insect pest of Asian origin, has recently emerged as a devastating pest of blueberries in Georgia, causing significant crop losses. Fruit marketers have zero tolerance for this pest and detection of even a single SWD larva in fruit can result in rejection of the entire shipment. In collaboration with blueberry growers and county Extension agents, field trials were conducted at the UGA Blueberry Research and Demonstration Farm in Alma and at multiple commercial grower farms to evaluate multiple season-long management programs designed to serve the variety of grower needs. Detailed studies were conducted to evaluate effectiveness of organically certified products to control SWD in organic blueberries. Based on results of these studies, UGA entomologists developed management recommendations in terms of season-long programs to enable growers to effectively control SWD in blueberries under conventional as well as organic production systems without compromising their ability to sell their fruit to U.S. and export markets of their choice. Communication with county Extension agents, pest management consultants, and growers suggest that the majority of the growers used these recommendations. Consequently the total crop losses have significantly decreased from previous years with no fruit rejections due to SWD infestations reported from farmers using recommended management programs. It has saved Georgia blueberry growers millions of dollars in crop losses due to SWD and increased profitability by enabling them to access export markets of their choice.