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UT scientists warn of insect damage to local fruit crops

June 5th, 2014 10:36 am by Associated Press

UT scientists warn of insect damage to local fruit crops

Local strawberries growing in fields (Lee Talbert/Press file photo)

Experts with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture are warning farmers and gardeners that an insect relatively new to the Volunteer State can cause significant damage to many fruits.

The spotted wing drosophila is a vinegar fly from Asia that is sometimes inaccurately referred to as a fruit fly. The insect was first detected in California in 2008. By 2013, damage caused by the pest had spread to fruits in 23 counties, from Greene County in the east to Gibson County in the west. The insect targets strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, grapes and other soft, thin-skinned fruit.

Scientists recommend setting traps within fruit crops baited with yeast, sugar and water. Also apply insecticide weekly at the first sign of ripening color if the pest is detected.

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