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September 29, 2017

Invasive fruit flies threaten berry crops

A strain of fruit fly from Asia is threatening late-season berry crops like strawberries and blackberries.

The Bangor Daily News reported that the University of Maine Cooperative Extension is encouraging farmers to take precautions against possible infestation of the spotted-wing drosophila. High populations are being detected as warm weather prolongs the growing season.

"If you're still harvesting fruit, you need to stay on the ball here," David Handley, a Cooperative Extension vegetable and small fruit specialist, told the BDN.

The insect pierces the skin of fruit that haven't fully ripened and lay eggs, destroying the fruit from within.

"Very quickly you can have millions, if not billions of flies roaming around," Handley said.

The flies were first detected in Maine in 2011. By 2012, the Sun Journal reported at the time, the industry was concerned the fly could damage up to 20% of the state's multi-million dollar blueberry crop and researchers were concerned about fall raspberries and blackberries as well.

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