Tiny pest-eating insect fights fruit flies

Dec 06, 2007
Tiny pest-eating insect fights fruit flies
Mediterranean fruit fly, a worldwide agricultural pest. Credit: Scott Bauer

Farmers and vineyard owners have a new weapon in their pest management arsenal. A commonly used parasitoid, or parasitic insect that kills its host, has proven to be quite effective in the control of fruit flies in vineyards. These tiny pest-devouring insects are considered to be powerful "biocontrol agents" since they reduce the need for chemical pest management applications.

Jean Pierre Kapongo, Ph.D., an entomologist specializing in environmental health at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, recently published the results of a research study that will aid vintners and fruit farmers in their ability to produce healthier crops. According to Kapongo, vineyard owners and farmers can now control fruit flies (Ceratitis capitata) with Muscidifurax raptor, an insect currently used in the control of other types of pests.

The study investigated the use of Muscidifurax raptor to control fruit flies in vineyards. Until recently, fruit flies were usually controlled with chemical insecticides and selected natural enemies. Kapongo explained that these traditional control methods were not popular with farmers because of the adverse effects of chemicals and the unreliability of using living parasites.

"Now we have discovered a parasitoid that is easily produced and effective in controlling fruit flies.", Kapongo commented. He added that insectaries, where parasitic insects are commercially produced and sold, are ready to increase production of the insects in response to market demands from vineyard owners.

Kopongo noted that using the Muscidifurax raptor parasitoid to control flies benefits the environment and promotes agricultural sustainability because the method lessens the need for chemical pesticides. Researchers believe that the study results will have additional application for controlling flies that threaten animals in confined environments such as poultry houses, dairies and horse stables.

Source: American Society for Horticultural Science

Explore further: Free the seed: OSSI nurtures growing plants without patent barriers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

20 hours ago

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Aging research goes to the dogs

Apr 15, 2014

From ancient alchemical quests to modern biological research, efforts to understand and combat human aging have borne few fruits. Now Cornell scientists aim to bridge the gap between lab research and aging's ...

Does germ plasm accelerate evolution?

Apr 14, 2014

Scientists at The University of Nottingham have published research in the leading academic journal Science that challenges a long held belief about the way certain species of vertebrates evolved.

Antennae help flies 'cruise' in gusty winds

Apr 10, 2014

Due to its well-studied genome and small size, the humble fruit fly has been used as a model to study hundreds of human health issues ranging from Alzheimer's to obesity. However, Michael Dickinson, Esther ...

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Apr 18, 2014

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.