NWO Biological control of the new invasive pest species Spotted Wing Drosophila

The Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii, is an invasive fruit fly from Asia that infests ripening fruit. It is rapidly spreading north in Europe and already causes millions of euros of damage in the fruit industry. This new pest species infests a wide range of fruit crops and there is an urgent need to control the SWD in The Netherlands.

General directives are provided to commercial fruitgrowers to repeatedly and prophylactically apply broad-spectrum pesticides, but this proves to beneither effective, nor efficient, nor sustainable. We aim to capitalize on our extensive expertise inDrosophila chemical ecology, insect reproduction, insect evolutionary genetics, and interactionswith parasitoids and pathogens, to develop innovative and locally attuned approaches for themanagement of this invasive pest.

Our consortium will

  1. unravel the infestation dynamics, the lifehistory traits and mortality factors that control SWD population growth in The Netherlands;
  2. combine this knowledge with behavioural and sensory research to identify chemical componentsthat can be applied in lures, traps and deterrents for a "push-pull" crop protection strategy and
  3. supplement this strategy with selectively breeding natural enemies as biological control agents to be released or applied in an integrated pest management strategy to control infestations of SWD.

Impact and output

We will develop fundamental knowledge on the new pest species SWD and exploit this knowledge to develop an integrated set of tools for crop protection and the biological control of SWD in commercial fruit farms. In close association with our commercial (Koppert Biological Systems) and public (WUR PPO-Fruit) consortium partners, we will design a protocol and guide for commercial fruit growers to establish best practices for the detection and eradication of SWD from their crops.