Trouble in the Land of Blueberries


Maine is worried about this year’s blueberry crop, which is an issue because Maine’s blueberries provide for many of the country’s favorite blueberry things including muffins, jam, yoghurt, and blueberry soda. It is predicted that the crop will be down several million pounds from last year’s crop, and the worry is that it will only get worse.

A fruit fly called the spotted wing Drosophila was discovered in the United States in 2008. This three millimeter-long fly was probably accidentally introduced through human-assisted transportation such as trade and shipping containers. The spotted wing Drosophila is not just a danger to the blueberries; it also preys on other soft-skinned fruits such as cherries and grapes. An adult female fly slices open the fruit and lays eggs inside. During this process, diseases can be introduced to the fruit, causing it to sour and rot, rendering it unfit for consumption.

The spotted wing Drosophila has been documented in Maine, Michigan, and Florida as well as in several European nations. Farmers are keeping a careful eye out for the fruit fly. In Maine, they set out traps to monitor the number of flies. The trap is a simple plastic cup filled with sweet liquid that will attract the flies. If they feel that there are too many flies present insecticides may be sprayed in order to save the crops. Thus far, insecticides have not been warranted, however, as harvest time grows closer, the number of flies present may rise.

The fly population can be controlled by not only monitoring the number of flies, but also by removing damaged or rotted fruit that attracts the flies.

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