The Pending Infestation

Glen Hanton, Senior Writer

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Eleven years ago, a new invasive species was discovered infiltrating America from Southeast Asia. However, at the time they were not seen as an imminent threat and buzzed under the noses of pest-control officials. The problem remained submerged until 2011 when the pest was found in New York, with numbers capable of reproduction.

The since elusive pest that has infiltrated the states is the Drosophila suzukii also known as the Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) or the Cherry Vinegar Fly. It is a fruit fly with origins in Southeastern Asia; it has abilities that classify it as a pest. Typical fruit flies lay their eggs in rotting fruit, but the SWD is capable of burrowing into overripe and harvested fruit. The larvae then live off of the fruit and become full grown themselves.

From this point, the SWD is capable of reproducing 9 more times in a single year.

“There has to be something new because the pesticides we already use kill bees and don’t kill SWD, both of which are big problems,” Biology teacher Jeffrey Webster said.

Since their introduction to America in 2008, the SWD has spread around most of the country. Most notably in places with temperate and wet climates. In the United States, this includes prominent farmsteads on the West Coast and Great Lakes. All fleshy fruits in these areas from apples to cherries are at risk of exposure to SWD.

Currently the only pesticide capable of defense against SWD are the pesticides normally enforced by farmers, only to some effect. Besides this, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends growing and storing produce in closed greenhouses. For farmers absent of this income, fruit fly traps are recommended.

“People living off the land around 26 mile road are going to have a tough run of it with this SWD,” junior Anthony Albsani said.

For protection, the first precaution taken is to avoid the organic section of the supermarket. The pesticides currently enforced offer some protections against SWD, so it’s better to employ some defense than none. But the most fruitful precaution lies in going off of eye. At the supermarket, be certain to scan the fruits and vegetables for the bite of the SWD, which looks like a small three millimeter wide hole in the surface of the fruit.

Another method is to submerge fruit in salt water, as when exposed SWD larvae will evacuate out of the holes previous carved by adult SWD. If the fruit is infested with SWD, promptly throw it out.

The infestations can take place in any fruit, even in school it is important to check over fruit visually if not done by the district previously. Even if so, an extra once-over wouldn’t hurt.

Until pest control officials can solidify a solution to the growing SWD infestation, it is important to stay prudent and stay informed on the presence of SWD and the precautions taken in the area.