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: Study finds color and thickness of eggshells in wild birds related to light level exposure

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tidal forces gave moon its shape, according to new analysis

52 minutes ago

The shape of the moon deviates from a simple sphere in ways that scientists have struggled to explain. A new study by researchers at UC Santa Cruz shows that most of the moon's overall shape can be explained by taking into ...

Mapping the optimal route between two quantum states

52 minutes ago

As a quantum state collapses from a quantum superposition to a classical state or a different superposition, it will follow a path known as a quantum trajectory. For each start and end state there is an optimal ...

US spy agency patents car seat for kids

1 hour ago

Electronic eavesdropping is the National Security Agency's forte, but it seems it also has a special interest in children's car seats, Foreign Policy magazine reported Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Brother of Hibiscus is found alive and well on Maui

1 hour ago

Most people are familiar with Hibiscus flowers- they are an iconic symbol of tropical resorts worldwide where they are commonly planted in the landscape. Some, like Hawaii's State Flower- Hibiscus brackenridgei- are en ...

Why do snakes flick their tongues?

3 hours ago

Many people think a snake's forked tongue is creepy. Every so often, the snake waves it around rapidly, then retracts it. Theories explaining the forked tongues of snakes have been around for thousands of ...

Boat noise impacts development and survival of sea hares

3 hours ago

While previous studies have shown that marine noise can affect animal movement and communication, with unknown ecological consequences, scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter and the École Pratique des Hautes ...

User comments : 0