October 7, 2012

Maine Gardener: To growers, this fly comes on wings of evil

By TOM ATWELL

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Handley said researchers on the West and East Coasts are looking for better ways to control the drosophila. One goal is for pesticides that would have to be applied less frequently, and a longer-range goal is to introduce friendly insects that could control it without pesticides.

“We have already found that there are some native parasites – these are wasps – that will affect it,” Handley said, “but we don’t know how far it will go.”

For the shorter term, Handley and others are hoping to come up with a better trap – one that will catch the drosophila before it ruins the fruit. With the current traps, the flies like real fruit better than the trap, so they go to the traps only after they have eaten all the fruit.

THE NEWS WAS BETTER on another pest that last winter was considered a potential problem for Maine crops.

The brown marmorated stinkbug will damage fruits and vegetables ranging from apples and peaches to beans and corn.

“We have had reports of that one coming into the state on cars, trucks and campers,” Handley said, “but we do not yet have a report of it as an agricultural pest.”

Handley said it is good news that the stinkbug has not made major inroads into Maine. But he also noted that in places where the marmorated stinkbug was a major problem last year, it was not as big a problem this year.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

tomatwell@me.com

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