USDA Awards $6.7 Million To Stifle Spotted Wing Drosophila
North Carolina State University has won a $6.7 million grant from the USDA to undertake research and grower education efforts aimed at better managing a major new pest that causes hundreds of millions of dollars in annual agricultural losses.
Under the four-year specialty crop grant from USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture, N.C. State University scientists will join with researchers and Extension specialists from across the nation to conduct on-farm tests aimed at finding new ways of effectively dealing with spotted wing drosophila, a tiny fruit fly that’s been causing big problems since it was first detected in North America in 2008.
They’ll also develop tactics and tools for predicting risks from the pest, along with educational materials to help growers make the most economically and environmentally sound management decisions.
N.C. State’s collaborators in the effort are from Michigan State, Oregon State, Cornell, and Rutgers universities, as well as the universities of Maine; Notre Dame; Georgia; California, Davis; and California, Berkeley; and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.
Hannah Burrack, an associate professor and Extension specialist at N.C. State University who is a member of American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® magazines’ Editorial Advisory Board, is leading the grant-funded effort to develop better ways to manage spotted wing drosophila.
Others from NC State who are participating in the project are Max Scott of the Entomology Department, Zack Brown of the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department, Rhonda Conlon of Extension Information Technology, and Jean-Jacques Debois of the Southern Integrated Pest Management Center.
Burrack emphasized that spotted wing drosophila, (Drosophila suzukii), lays eggs in such valuable soft-skinned fruit as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and cherries. The eggs develop into larvae, leaving the fruit unmarketable.