September 26, 2012 | last updated September 26, 2012 10:44 am

New fruit fly worries berry growers

Researchers are battling the influx of a new type of fruit fly that Maine blueberry growers and others are worried could hit the industry hard.

The Sun Journal reports that less than 100 Spotted Wing Drosophila showed last year in Monmouth. This year, researchers caught up to 3,000 flies a week. With a 14-day lifespan, the insect can lay up to 300 eggs using a saw-like appendage to deposit them into ripening fruits.

The paper reported that the fly could damage up to 20% of the state's multi-million dollar blueberry crop and researchers are concerned about fall raspberries and blackberries as well.

Jim Dill, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension pest control specialist, told the Sun Journal that controlling the new fruit fly could not only damage a harvest but could raise the price of items like raspberries, which he said are already expensive. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has a $50,000 federal grant to study the fly.


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