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Fruit damaging flies on the rise in Arkansas - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Fruit damaging flies on the rise in Arkansas

Posted: Updated:
Hope, Ark. -

You've probably all heard of those pesky little insects called fruit flies.

While they can be a nuisance, they're basically harmless.

However, there is a new kind of fruit fly that is creating costly damage for farmers across the United States.

The spotted wing drosophilia has been found in at least 18 counties in Arkansas, including Hempstead, Howard and Nevada counties.

"Whether you're a large, small or intermediate grower, everyone who is growing fruit in this area has got to be aware of this and has got to be on a management program," said Terry Kirkpatrick, Professor of plant pathology, Southwest Research and Extension Center, Hope, Arkansas.

He says the tiny Asian fly was first introduced to the U.S. nearly a decade ago, but has only been in Arkansas a couple of years.

"This year, it was even more prevalent. It's a pretty good indication that with other areas, once it gets established here, we're going to have to live with it from now on," said Kirkpatrick.

The spotted wing drosophilia lays eggs prior to harvesting. Kirkpatrick says by the time the fruit gets to the consumer there's a problem.

"It's a real quality issue for the growers. There is pretty much a zero tolerance from the consumer for worms in their fruit. Blackberries are the biggest risk right now.

Jessica LeFors has been trapping the fruit damaging flies for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

"We set the traps up once a week and change the lure every three weeks," explained LeFors.

She says trapping helps them measure the levels of insects, so they know when to begin treatment. She uses a microscope to identify the amount of population growth.

"For commercial growers, if they go untreated, they can have 100 percent infestation," she said.

LeFors says right now using field traps and insecticide sprays are the only way to control the infestation.

"Once the insects are here, we recommend to the growers to start spraying weekly, and there's a choice on which ones they want to use," said LeFors.

Blackberries in the south typically peak in June.

Researchers say trapping for the fruit damaging fly should begin long before harvest time.

For more information contact your local county extension agent.

 

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