After receiving authorization from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, researchers in Oregon are releasing parasitoid wasps to address spotted wing drosophila (SWD) populations. The wasp species, Ganaspis brasiliensis, kills SWD by laying eggs in the pest, eventually consuming the insect once the wasp hatches. Extension entomologist and Oregon State University professor, Vaughn Walton said the preliminary data shows the wasp to be very effective.
“We know that this parasitoid is very specific. It does not target any other organism,” said Walton. “We’re releasing them in these natural environments around where the crop is, where 90 percent of the pest insect is at, and they will naturally go and start attacking those pest insects surrounding the crop.”
SWD can be a devastating pest for several crops including strawberries, cherries, grapes, and peaches. Walton noted that even with certain management techniques, growers can still be looking at a farmgate value loss of 10 percent. The parasitoid wasps provide an option for reducing SWD populations and thereby saving growers time and money in application costs and loss of production.
“The long-term goal is to find these softer alternatives, these biological agents that are very specific that are targeting these pest insects. That would reduce our dependency on these insecticides,” said Walton.
Listen to the full episode with Vaughn Walton below.
‘Making Sense of Biologicals’ is a series from AgNet West that dives into various topics with unbiased experts in the field of biologics to help the industry better understand the product category.
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