Spotted Wing Drosophila Alert — June 28, 2024

David Handley, Vegetable and Small Fruit Specialist; James Dill, Pest Management Specialist, Phil Fanning, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Entomology, Christina Howard, Maine New Farmer Project Manager

Male and Female Spotted Wing Drosophila Flies
Male (left) and Female (right) Spotted Wing Drosophila; photo by Griffin Dill. Actual size: 2-3 mm.

Spotted wing drosophila fruit flies and larvae have been reported in ripe strawberry fruit in southern and central Maine this week. This is a very early appearance of spotted wing drosophila in damaging numbers. Although we know this insect can successfully survive the winters here in Maine, the small overwintering population usually doesn’t build up to injurious levels until mid to late August. Although we have not yet caught any flies in a trap we set up at Highmoor Farm in Monmouth on Tuesday, reports of drosophila flies and damage from Cape Elizabeth, Gray, Lewiston and Bowdoinham starting early this week, indicate that this pest is actively laying eggs in developing berries. This compliments reports from other New England states indicating that SWD is now active, and numbers are increasing very early this season, likely encouraged by a relatively mild winter and wet, warm conditions this spring.

If you are growing raspberries, blackberries and/or blueberries, spotted wing drosophila will be laying eggs on these fruit as soon as they begin to ripen.

Spotted wing drosophila populations are likely to build rapidly in the coming weeks as more food (fruit) becomes available for the flies, especially if weather conditions are warm and wet. We will be setting traps at raspberry, highbush blueberry and strawberry sites around the state next week. Now is the time to set out your own traps, if you haven’t already. Start protective sprays on any berries that have begun to ripen when more than four spotted wing drosophila flies are caught in a trap, or any larvae are noticed in the fruit. Look for fruit flies hovering around fruit and symptoms of premature fruit decay.

Important points for managing spotted wing drosophila include:

1. Monitor for the flies with traps, and for the larvae in fruit.
2. Spray regularly and often once flies or larvae have been found in the field (every 5 to 7 days).
3. Harvest fruit regularly and often; do not leave any ripe/rotten fruit in the field.
4. Sort fruit at harvest; do not leave any soft fruit in the container to be sold.
5. Chill all fruit immediately after harvest to 36ºF (or as close as you can) for a minimum of 12 hours to slow or stop development of any eggs or larvae.
6. Prune the planting, especially the lower region, to open up the canopy and create dry, light conditions.

Products that provide good control of drosophila on berry crops include spinosad (Radiant® for strawberries, Delegate® for raspberries and blueberries), Asana®, Brigade®, Danitol®, Exirel® and Assail®. Research suggests that adding table sugar to group 4A insecticides, such as Assail®, may improve their effectiveness. The recommended rate would be 1-2 lbs. sugar per 100 gallons of spray. Also, it is recommended to add 4-16 oz Nu Film P®/100 gal with all materials to improve SWD efficacy and, if it rains after you spray, re-apply a pesticide material. (Read the label for any re-application restrictions of the same material.) Please check product labels for rates, post-harvest intervals and safety precautions.

Click here for a complete list (courtesy of Mary Concklin at UConn Extension) of labeled spray materials for SWD.

Characteristics of Insecticides for Spotted Wing Drosophila Control

Trade name Days to Harvest Blueberry Days of Residual IRAC Group
Assail® 1 5-7 4A
Mustang Max® 1 7 3
*Bifenture® 1 (3 raspberry) 7 3
*Brigade® 1 (3 raspberry) 7 3
Danitol® 3 7 3
Delegate® 3 (1 raspberry) 7 5
Entrust® 3 (1 raspberry) 3-5 5
Success® 1 (raspberry only) 3-5 5
Exirel® 3 (1 raspberry) 5-7 28
Imidan® 3 (not for raspberry) 5-7 1B
Verdepryn 1 5-7 28

*Contains PFAS chemicals

Drosophila Trap
Drosophila Trap, photo by David Handley

A Simple Monitoring Trap for Spotted Wing Drosophila:

The trap body is made from a 16-ounce red plastic cup (we use Solo Brand P16RLR). You’ll need one that has a tight-fitting lid (we use Solo Brand 626TS). Using a 1/8” hole punch (available through art suppliers), punch about 15 holes in a row around the cup just under the lip about 1/2” apart. Leave about 2” of the diameter of the rim with no holes so that liquid can be poured in and out. Punch a second row of holes just under the first row, to give you a total of 30, 1/8” holes. Use a black permanent marker to paint a 1/2” wide black strip around the cup under the rim, right over the holes you punched. To support the trap, cut a wooden tomato stake down to about 30”. Attach a 4” or larger hose clamp near the top of the stake to act as a cup holder for the trap. (We punched a hole in the metal band of the hose clamp and attached it to the stake with a flat-headed wood screw.) Place the trap holder in a shady, moist place in or near the fruit planting, with the cup height 12” to 18” off the ground. Fill the trap with 4 to 6 ounces of apple cider vinegar, water + sugar + yeast, or whatever bait you prefer. It is best to add a few drops of unscented soap to break the surface tension of the liquid. Place the lid on the cup to keep rain and critters from getting in and place the trap in the holder. Adjust the hose clamp so that the trap fits in snugly but the trap holes are not covered up. Empty and re-bait the trap every week. Do not pour out the old bait on the ground near the trap, as this will draw flies away from it. Check the traps and change the bait at least weekly.

An effective commercial trap and bait is now available from Scentry. The trap is reusable and the bait lasts 4-6weeks. Cost for both is about $20 plus shipping, it is available from Great Lakes IPM Company.

For more information on identifying spotted wing drosophila (SWD) and updates on populations around the state, visit our SWD blog.

Other IPM Web Pages
Michigan State University Spotted Wing Drosophila
Penn State University Spotted Wing Drosophila Overview
University of New Hampshire SWD Weekly IPM Reports

David T. Handley
Vegetable and Small Fruit Specialist

Highmoor Farm
P.O. Box 179
Monmouth, ME 04259

UMaine Extension Diagnostic Research Lab
Pest Management Unit
17 Godfrey Drive
Orono, ME 04473


Where brand names or company names are used it is for the reader’s information. No endorsement is implied nor is any discrimination intended against other products with similar ingredients. Always consult product labels for rates, application instructions and safety precautions. Users of these products assume all associated risks.

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