Fruit fly lands in Moscow
This summer, Moscow became home to the first reported sighting of the Spotted Wing Drosophila in Idaho.
The exotic fruit fly was discovered by Moscow resident Dylan Champagne, who noticed while picking cherries out of his tree that the fly was ruining his fruit. After doing research online, Champagne followed the advice he found and raked up the cherries only to find that the flies weren’t the typical sort, so he continued his search online.
“I took one look at the picture of the males and the little dot on the wings and said ‘Oh my God, that’s what we have,’” Champagne said.
After Champagne realized he had something other than the usual cherry fruit fly, he took some of the flies to the University of Idaho Extension Latah County office. After initially being told that he was dealing with the common cherry fly, Champagne continued his search and returned to the extension office where the samples made their way to UI and Extension integrated pest management specialist Ed Bechinski.
“My hat’s off to Dylan Champagne for making this amazing discovery,” Bechinski said. “I think our smartphones and googling of stuff have really changed the way that people deal with pests.”
Bechinski confirmed what Champagne already believed — that he had in fact discovered the Spotted Wing Drosophila in his cherry tree. Bechinski reached out to Champagne and spoke with him over the phone to find out how bad the infestation was.
“I asked Dylan to ‘Give it a rating between one and 10,’ and he said nine — that almost all of the cherries he looked at had maggots in them,” Bechinski said.
Bechinski said the Spotted Wing Drosophila was imported from the orient.
“This marks the first detection of this insect in Idaho. It’s a potentially very serious pest,” Bechinski said. “It’s an exotic insect and it’s related to the common ordinary fruit fly, the Drosophilae.”
Bechinski said that, while this marked the first appearance of the Spotted Wing Drosophila in Idaho, there is no way that the insect just arrived to Idaho. Now that the bug is here, regardless of how long it has been here, it is not going anywhere.
“There is no going back, the only way of going back would have been to turn the clock back to 2008, when infestations were found in the fruit industry in California,” Bechinski said. “Had someone been able to find the first infested fruit at that time and intercepted it, that’s the point to stop it. But there’s no way of stopping it now.”
Since the first discovery of the insect in 2008, it has been found in Oregon, Washington and Montana. Montana and Idaho were both believed to be inhospitable to the Spotted Wing Drosophilia.
Jacob Dyer can be reached at email@example.com