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Fruit farmers on guard for new pest
The spotted wing drosophila, seen here on a raspberry, is a new cause for concern for fruit growers across the state. (COURTESY)
The spotted-wing drosophila isn't quite this imposing in real life. It's actually about the size of the year on a penny, but it can do serious damage to fruit crops. Minnesota department of agriculture
The spotted-wing drosophila isn’t quite this imposing in real life. It’s actually about the size of the year on a penny, but it can do serious damage to fruit crops. Minnesota department of agriculture
To ward off an infestation of the flies, growers across New Hampshire have installed traps to catch the flies in order to monitor their numbers and prepare for possible infestation. If the flies show up around the time the fruit ripens, the farmers have to immediately spray to kill them off, Eaton said. There are both standard and organic remedies available, he said, but spraying is vital to saving crops.
In addition to spraying, Eaton said growers can mitigate the infestation by cleaning up dropped or rotten fruit — a challenge on a big berry field or in a sizeable orchard where peaches, plums and cherries grow. Apples don't appear to be appetizing to the fly.
Heidi Bartlett of Bartlett's Berry Farm in Newport said the flies haven't made an appearance yet and the growing season is over for most of her crops except late raspberries.
"We took out our (family's) row of raspberries so they're not an attractant," she said.
At home, Eaton suggests that people refrigerate their picked fruit so the flies don't invade.
And Bartlett recommends that people wash their fruit thoroughly before enjoying it in case farmers have had to spray.