A parasitic wasp that controls a highly destructive fruit fly will be released by Oregon State University agricultural scientists in June. According to Vaughn Walton, Extension entomologist and professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences, the USDA has permitted release of the wasp (Ganaspis brasiliensis), a process that took more than 10 years from application to decision.
Now that they have a permit, Walton’s lab, which is part of the OSU Agricultural Experiment Station, is raising enough wasps to make a dent in the spotted wing drosophila (SWD) population in Oregon.
The latter arrived in Oregon in 2009 and soon became a major pest of soft fruit crops like cherries, peaches, figs, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and wine grapes. Damage from the invasive insect costs the country’s agricultural industry approximately $500 million a year. Especially disquieting is its affinity for blueberries, which is Oregon’s ninth-most valuable crop at $120 million in 2020. Management of spotted wing drosophila in the blueberry industry alone costs growers $100 million a year nationwide.