A tiny fruit fly with a vicious nickname may threaten Oregon’s bountiful fruit and berry crops, state agriculture officials say.
The Spotted Wing Drosophila, sometimes called the "dragon fruit fly," has been found in Oregon from Portland south to Douglas County. Unlike more common fruit flies, which feed on overripe or rotten fruit, the Drosophila attacks ripe, healthy fruit. Just a couple larvae can damage fruit to the point that it can’t be sold. The fly’s presence may cause other states and countries to ban fruit and berry shipments that are coming from Oregon.
Infestation shows up as small scars or indented soft spots on fruit, left by the female fly’s stinger. Eggs hatch in one to three days, and the maggots feed inside the fruit, which begins to collapse or rot around the site.
The fly is native to southeast Asia but has spread to Hawaii, Florida and, most recently, California. It attacks apples, cherries, grapes, peaches, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, among other crops.
Does the fly’s appearance in Oregon mean farmers will be using more or stronger insecticides? That’s unclear, because the state doesn’t yet have a management plan. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is urging farmers to set commercial or homemade traps to monitor the fly’s presence while the department develops recommendations for suppressing them.