A tiny fruit fly about a tenth of an inch long, known as the Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), poses an immediate and serious threat to this year's fruit crops in Missouri and to homeowners who grow strawberries, grapes and other fruits.
Dr. Jaime Pinero, Missouri extension pest management specialist at Lincoln University, on Thursday issued an urgent warning that Missouri fruit harvest are at risk.
Pinero said the SWD fruit fly "has already caused extreme injury to crops in many counties throughout the state during the last few days."
The best way to protect fruit crops now, he said, is "to spray an effective insecticide right away."
Pinero said the SWD fruit fly is a new invasive pest to Missouri and is a significant threat to small fruit producers and homeowners.
"It can multiply quickly and the females lay eggs inside berries, including blackberries, raspberries and strawberries," he said.
Stone fruits such as cherries, peaches and nectarines are also affected along with grapes and other soft-fleshed fruits. SWD flies also attack some vegetables, including tomatoes and peppers. Also affected are wild plants such as pokeweed, autumn olive, crab apple, Amur honeysuckle and wild grape.