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Pest Control: Olive Farmers Have New Methods to Combat Destructive Fruit Flies

Sep 22, 2015 03:16 PM EDT

The olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae) has been a problem in California since it was introduced in 1998 but olive farmers might be seeing some relief from new control methods U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers have introduced.

Olive fruit flies lay their offspring, or larva, inside of olives that the your feed off and destroy. Fungi and bacteria then cause the fruit to rot even more.

In attempting to help olive farmers save more of their cash crop, Victoria Y. Yokoyama, from the USDA Agriculture Research Service, trapped and examined olive fruit flies to better understand how to detect juveniles and adults in olive orchards. She also collected olive samples from noncommercial trees from 2002 to 2013 from different locations to better understand when farmers should be on the lookout for potential fruit fly damage. Ultimately, she found that larvae were most abundant during September and October.  

Among her recommendations for managing pest populations were intensive biological control programs and the use of bait stations to reel fruit flies away from profitable olive plants. She also recommends basic culture-control practices, advising farmers to remove non-harvested fruit, time harvests around adult fruit fly activity and remove standing water.

Yokoyama also noted that certain biological control insects, such as parasitoid wasps, could be used to manage fruit flus, since they act as natural enemies and discourage nearby habitation. Moreover, she evaluated a variety of wasp species and has outlined the pros and cons of employing each.

Yokoyama findings were recently published in the Entomological Society of America's Journal of Integrated Pest Management

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-Follow Samantha on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13

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