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Spotted Wing Drosophila in Tomatoes

Judson Reid, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

September 13, 2012

Spotted Wing Drosophila in Tomatoes
Although this new pest in gaining attention from berry growers, it is also a threat to tomatoes.  Spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) lays eggs in ripe or maturing fruit with a rear-end that favors a miniature hack-saw. The eggs, which have creepy breathing tubes, hatch out into nasty worms that feed inside the fruit creating a liquefied mass. Reports on tomatoes mention organic, heirloom and high tunnel crops. A common theme to these observations is that insecticides are generally absent. SWD has been reported in 2012 throughout the state, so far in traps and fruit plantings (see map courtesy of Hudson Valley Fruit Program). Likely there are unreported cases of infested tomatoes.

What to do?
First, reduce or eliminate over-ripe fruit, or wild brambles in proximity to tomatoes, with extra vigilance for grape/cherry and tunnel plantings. Next, consult the excellent information compiled by the Cornell Fruit Program online. With this information scouting and trapping should then be implemented. Finally, consider protecting crops with effective materials. Note that SWD is not listed on most pesticide labels.

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