Pest nightmares

In less than ten years fruitgrowers are facing two new new pests that would seem to be a greater threat than anything this continent has created in thousands of years. I’m speaking of brown marmerated stinkbugs and single wing drosophilia fruit flies.

SWD has yet to appear in any of the orchards I manage but it will likely appear soon- it is not far away. Last year was the first time I seemed to experience major BMS damage after seeing some presence for 3 years.

My low spray approach is clearly in jeopardy, and maybe already obsolete, some years, some sites. I’m not managing enough orchards with Surround to know how it is going to work against BMS but I believe it has little efficacy against SWD although I am not sure my facts are straight on that.

In most of the orchards I manage I don’t use Surround and use either the pyrethroid Asana or Avaunt- usually using only a total of two insecticide sprays per season- months before harvest. BMS can be most damaging shortly before harvest and generally throughout the growing season. SWD attacks ripening fruit.

I was reading in Good Fruit magazine that a very promising parasitic wasp that was brought from China and has proven to be an aggressive feeder of BMS was just rejected for use here. Why? Because it doesn’t stop at BMS and has an equal appetite for native stinkbugs.

I suppose the environmental concerns are legitimate, but as a person that makes his living growing fruit, I would consider that a big bonus. I don’t know what crucial role green stinkbugs and the rest play in our ecosystem, but I’m sure some of the biological controls we use on our native pests aren’t precisely species specific.

Of course, these nightmares are not yet reality. Often threats don’t amount to the expectations and researchers are working hard for solutions even as problems mount.

OK, I’ve expressed my fears. I have no control of outcomes beyond taking it day by day. I’m pretty sure reasonable methods will arise to control these pests. Humans are exceedingly clever, and more clever by the moment with the modern linkage of brains from all over the world.


Have you read the March 1, 2015 issue of GFG magazine? Good info there on both pests and more.

That’s the one I got this bit from. I will have to continue reading. Thanks.

BMSB pressure actually fell dramatically here last year. 10 miles east of here (and much lower in elevation) where the BMSB ran rampant the previous year were insignificant this past year. They didn’t even begin to really be seen until later in the season and because they appeared so late their damage was insignificant.

I’m hoping this trend continues this year, but who knows?

Yes, they’ve been less consistent than other pests and they don’t rely on fruit trees. It will be quite a few more years before we actually know what their long term impact will be. I’m just feeling a bit snake bit by some of the damage I experienced last year.

Alan, are you worried about SWD from a treefruit or berry standpoint? I’ve had them bad the last two years, but haven’t seen a single instance of them in tree-fruit. Maybe I’m just not getting enough fruit yet for them to be manifest (mostly apples, with some peaches and pears and a few apricots & plums). Nothing yet on hardy kiwi or grapes either. Raspberries and Blackberries are massively impacted and I think I’ve seen a few on blueberries. Elderberries also got hit 2 years ago, but I didn’t have a big enough crop to notice any last year.

I know I’ve read about them hitting all the above tree-fruit, but for some reason I haven’t seen it (yet). Maybe it is because I have the berries- they spend all their time on them and don’t bother with the tougher fruits. If that is the case, I probably shouldn’t finish getting rid of my late berries, as there would be nothing left except the other fruits to attack.

Bob, I’m a bit worried about it all. Certainly blueberries are a staple of my own fruit consumption. I eat frozen ones from my stand every morning as soon as there are no peaches left to pick until they start to ripen when I harvest enough fruit. In over 20 years of production I’ve never needed to spray them for anything.

We growers of delicious things get to experience a lot of worry. Right now I’m thinking a lot about pest control because spring is almost in my face.

I’ve been using wire to kill peach borers the last few days…fun stuff.

It never ends with pests. Start with my favorite, the plum curculio. Nothing i can do about them other then spray. 100 yards from my house is a wild plum patch (on public property)…its probably their breeding/planning ground for attacking my trees. I do get excellent fruit set every year…plus lots of bees. Then I move to Rose Chafers in June (sandy soil)…Japanese Beetles show up in July (last year was very light on them). SWD was new for me last year (late Aug/early Sept)…lots of them in my Caroline berries. Of course probably my biggest, most annoying pest is the squirrel. Those stupid things take almost ripe fruit, tear it from the tree with their razor teeth and take one bite and decide its not quite good enough for them and leave it to rot. That is one thing that the south western desert areas have nice…the lack of pests (or so it seems)…

You know…when everyone on here starting talking about SWD I didn’t even know what they looked like. I went online to get a look at some photos and I can honestly say I’ve never seen one here.
No doubt that will change.

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That is what I used to think when people talked about Japanese beetles, boy when they got here it was like a plague, I had no idea it would be so bad.

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