Pest found earlier in Northwest tree fruit and berries

By MITCH LIES

Capital Press

The Drosophila suzukii -- a vinegar fly that inflicted heavy late-season crop loss in some Northwest fruit -- has turned up in winegrapes.

Oregon State University entomologists Amy Dreves and Vaughn Walton reported this week the fly was found in winegrapes collected in early October from a north Willamette Valley vineyard.

The discovery has raised concerns the new invader in future years could inflict damage on Oregon's internationally renowned winegrape crop. This year's harvest, which is pretty well wrapped up, is not expected to be in jeopardy.

"Shippers and growers haven't noticed any significant damage," said Oregon Department of Agriculture entomologist Helmuth Rogg.

Researchers previously have found the the pest in blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, peaches, pears and plums.

Native to Japan and parts of Southeast Asia, the spotted-wing vinegar fly was first confirmed in the continental U.S. last year when it was found in California.

The fly now has been reported in Florida, Washington, British Columbia, Oregon and throughout California.

In Oregon, new reports of its occurrence have been confirmed almost weekly since OSU researchers first identified the fly in a sample of blueberries in August.

Also raising concern among Oregon entomologists this week is a moth that could have entered Oregon on a shipment of winegrapes from Napa Valley, Calif.

Rogg said ODA officials are worried larvae of the European grapevine moth, which was found recently for the first time in the U.S. in a Napa Valley vineyard, could have hitched a ride to Oregon on a 30-ton shipment of winegrapes.

"About 20 tons or so are coming from the area where they caught it," Rogg said. "This is a big concern for us."

A risk analysis conducted by the USDA in 2004 determined the moth was a "pest of concern," Rogg said.

ODA officials did not find the pest in a survey of about 20 vineyards this year, Rogg said.

Additional traps will be set next year for the pest, he said.

"We're trying to avoid these issues," he said, "but the problem is increased trade from one country to another and within the states."

The moth, which is native to Southern Europe and Northern Africa, is in the same family as the light brown apple moth.

Officials fear it could flourish in the temperate climate of the Willamette Valley.

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