(Franklin County, Ind.) – A bug from the other side of the globe could threaten a variety of berries in southeast Indiana.
Purdue Extension Ag and Natural Resources Educator for the Franklin County Extension Office Anna Morrow called the insect’s presence “worrisome.”
The spotted wing drosophila fly has been identified in Franklin County. The SWD, which is native to Asia, is harmful to small fruits.
Recently, Morrow answered a call from a resident concerning small, white worms in blackberries that were only noticeable when then berries were cooked. Morrow trapped some of the flies and sent them to Purdue University where the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service insect identifier confirmed the bugs were SWD.
Unlike the typical fruit fly seen in our area, the SWD lays is capable of laying its eggs in soft fruits such as blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, and grapes. When the eggs hatch, the larvae then eat the fruit. However, it is difficult to tell if a fruit has been injected with eggs until the larvae destroy it.
To control the pesky bug, the Purdue Extension recommends destroying overripe fruit before the larvae inside grow into adult flies. Removing wild plants plants that can harbor SWD – such as pokeweed, autumn olive, crabapple, nightshade, Amur honeysuckle, and wild grape – can also limit their numbers. The bug can be caught with apple cider vinegar in a cup.
The spotted wing drosophila was first found to be in Indiana in Blackford County last October, according to the Purdue Extension. The bug made its first known appearance in the U.S. in California in 2008.