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Spotted Wing Drosophila and how we can help you.

Spotted Wing Drosophila is a vinegar (fruit) fly that was first spotted in the UK back in 2012 after originally coming from Asia and having been spotted in California in 2008. Since then, farmers have come to Agricare looking for effective ways to keep their crop safe. Since SWD was initially spotted in the UK, it has become a serious threat to farmers on a seasonal basis and that’s why we’re here to help and support them with our protective netting.

SWD can affect a wide variety of fruit being grown in the UK including strawberries, raspberries, cherries and grapes which is why early identification is key to rescuing as much of the crop as possible. They are also the only known fruit flies that can lay eggs in undamaged fruit.

In spite of their name, only the male SWD feature the famous spot on their wings, the females have their own unique features including an egg laying structure commonly referred to as the ‘saw’.  It’s this saw-like feature that causes damage to fruit as female SWD are able to use it to penetrate the fruit skin (leaving a very small puncture wound), laying multiple eggs within the fruit itself.

What is incredible about this is that visually, there can be no damage. Fruit can look unaffected and untouched on the surface initially, but as the eggs develop and hatch, you start to see the signs of something going wrong. This is a quick process though as the fruit can go from undamaged at the time of egg laying to destroyed in only 10 days.

Life Cycle of Spotted Wing Drosophila

The life cycle of SWD shows just how quickly they cause damage during their short lifespan. As you can see on the diagram featured, the eggs develop quickly under the skin of the fruit, which is why once there, the damage is so rapid. Once the SWD has reached adulthood, their lifespan is only between 20 and 30 days.

SWD Lifecycle

Photo: OSU Extension Service 

Studying SWD in the UK

In 2017, a four year study started by the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) began with aim of learning more about how SWD works, how it has adapted to the UK climate and how we can protect our fruit in the future.  At the time, Dr Rachel McGauley, crop production systems scientist for AHDB said

"Ultimately the aim is to provide growers with a wide range of control methods which will ensure the long-term viability of soft and stone fruit production, in spite of the continuing presence of SWD."

Results from this study are due to be released next year and we’re looking forward to reading them and sharing them with you. 

How can we help you protect your fruit?

SWD netting from Agricare is designed to stop female spotted wing drosophila entering the orchard in the first place and is considered the best was to effectively protect your crop from infestation.

Created from HDPE U.V. Monofilament, our netting boasts exceptional tear resistance and wind resistance while still maintaining a good airflow for the crop underneath. As well as SWD, our netting can help protect your fruit from other animals such as rabbits, pigeons and other vermin that may show an interest.

This multi seasonal product can cope in a range of weather conditions including heavy rainfall. For those using our netting in these conditions, it has been designed to reduce splash during rain fall and also with hail protection properties.

As well as netting from Agricare, you can also help prevent the arrival of SWD by making sure that any fallen fruit or damaged fruit are taken away as quickly as possible.

If you’re interested in our SWD netting or would like more technical information, our sales team are here, ready to help. Call us today on 01304 842280 and we’ll be happy to help.

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