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August 11, 2014
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Fruit-damaging flies are on the increase in at least 18 Arkansas
counties and implementing a weekly insecticide spray program can be the answer, said
Donn Johnson, professor and fruit and nut research and extension entomologist for
the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
In just less than a month, researchers have found that populations of spotted wing
drosophila, or SWD, have risen from less than two per trap per week to 93 flies per
trap per week. The highest infestations are in Benton, Johnson and Washington counties,
The 18 counties are Benton, Calhoun, Carroll, Crawford, Faulkner, Franklin, Hempstead,
Howard, Johnson, Lonoke, Madison, Nevada, Pike, Polk, Pope, Van Buren, Washington,
Percentage of berries infested with SWD eggs or larvae according to Johnson:
“Since it was first discovered in North and South Carolina a few years ago, this insect
has caused 80 percent yield losses for commercial growers,” said Sherri Sanders, White
County extension agent for the division.
A grower in Northwest Arkansas lost a significant portion of his blackberry harvests
to SWD before implementing the insecticide spray program. After following a weekly
insecticide spray program that started at first ripening, so far only 3 percent of
his blackberries were infested with SWD, Johnson said.
The cold spring and cool early summer in Arkansas caused blackberry and raspberry
harvests and SWD fly buildup to occur later than last year. “This year, the density
increased later than in past years,” he said. This tiny Asian fly can increase to
possibly 50-fold over several weeks in July and August with temperatures of above
80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another reason may be that researchers in those areas are better at luring and trapping
the flies, which resulted in a higher number of flies identified, Sanders said.
Spray insecticide weekly and alternate
To minimize SWD infestation, Johnson asks farmers to set fields with traps three weeks
before ripening starts. Then growers need to check traps for flies weekly.
“If SWD is found and fruit are ripening, apply weekly recommended insecticides until
harvest ends,” he said. Growers should re-apply insecticide after rain and alternate
insecticides with different modes of action to keep the flies from developing resistance
to a specific insecticide.
Improve spray coverage by thinning to open up canopy. “We are testing screens or row
covers of less than 1-millimeter mesh to exclude flies from ripening berries,” Johnson
Remove damaged and overripe berries and place them in a bag or under black plastic
sheet to heat in the sun -- called “solarization” -- that will prevent SWD reproduction.
Try to pick fruit every two to three days and quickly refrigerate results of any infested
berries that have mostly SWD eggs under fruit skin and no larval development.
To confirm if SWD is present, growers should ask their county extension agent to mail
a vial of flies from their SWD trap or mail a zip-top bag of 30 ripe berries to Barbara
Lewis, AGRI 319 Department of Entomology University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR,
To learn more on how to identify SWD fly, how to build SWD fly trap, and other information
about SWD, visit http://www.uaex.uada.edu/publications/pdf/FSA-7079.pdf.
For more information about fruit production, visit https://www.uaex.uada.edu/farm-ranch/crops-commercial-horticulture/horticulture/commercial-fruit-production/
or contact your county extension office.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Kezia NandaFor the Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com