Spotted Wing Drosophila Management Guidelines-UC IPM

How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Spotted Wing Drosophila

In this Guideline:

Adult male spotted wing drosophila.

Close-up of the wing of a male spotted wing drosophila.

The spotted wing drosophila’s ovipositor is large and serrated.

Spotted wing drosophila larva on damaged cherry.

Spotted wing drosophila pupating on the surface of a cherry.

Spotted wing drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii, is a fruit fly first found in 2008 damaging fruit in many California counties. It infests ripening cherries throughout the state and ripening raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, and strawberry crops, especially in coastal areas. It also has been observed occasionally attacking other soft-flesh fruit such as plums, plumcots, nectarines, and figs when conditions are right.


Adults and maggots closely resemble the common vinegar fly, D. melanogaster, and other Drosophila species that attack primarily rotting or fermenting fruit. Spotted wing drosophila, however, readily attacks undamaged fruit. See Identifying Drosophila suzukii in References for help with distinguishing this pest from other flies. The online version of this publication also includes a link to an SWD identification card.

Adults are small flies about 1/16 to 1/8 inch long with red eyes and a pale brown thorax and abdomen with black stripes on the abdomen. The most distinguishable trait of SWD males is a black spot towards the tip of each wing. The females do not have spots on wings but have a very prominent, sawlike ovipositor for laying eggs in fruit.

Larvae are tiny, white cylindrical maggots a little longer than 1/8 inch when full grown. One to several larvae can be found feeding within a single fruit. After maturing, the larvae partially or completely exit the fruit to pupate.

Spotted wing drosophila may be mistaken for other adult flies and maggots. Look closely by comparing anatomical features of the maggots and wing patterns of adult flies. For instance, adult Western cherry fruit flies, Rhagoletis indifferens, in another family of flies called Tephritids, are much longer at 3/16 inch than SWD adults and have a dark banding pattern on their wings. This fruit fly, which is a quarantine pest, occurs in Washington, Oregon, and other states but has not established in California. If you suspect you have a Western cherry fruit fly, take specimens to your local agricultural commissioners’ office.

Research studies to define the biology and life cycle of SWD in California are still underway; however, like other vinegar flies, it appears to have a short life cycle of one to several weeks depending on temperature and can have as many as 10 generations per year. This rapid developmental rate allows it to quickly develop large populations and inflict severe damage to a crop.

In its native Japan and in coastal California the adult flies can be captured throughout much of the year. In California’s inland valleys the adult flies are most active during spring and fall when highs are between 60° and 80°F, especially when conditions are humid and food is available. In laboratory studies at constant temperatures, they are most active at 68°F; activity becomes reduced at temperatures above 86°F.


Unlike other vinegar flies that occur in California, spotted wing drosophila attacks healthy ripening fruit as well as damaged or split fruit. The female will penetrate the skin of soft-skinned fruit with her large ovipositor and lay eggs just under the skin, creating a small puncture, or “sting,” on the fruit surface. Each sting contains 1 to 3 eggs, and a female can oviposit on many fruit. Multiple larvae within a single fruit are quite possible, because many females might visit the same fruit to oviposit. Once fruit integrity is compromised by SWD’s activities, common vinegar flies also might oviposit in the damaged fruit.

Eggs hatch and maggots develop and feed inside the fruit, causing the flesh to turn brown and soft with sunken areas that can exude fluid on the surface of smooth-skinned fruit such as cherries and blueberries. Damage can provide an entry site for infection by secondary fungal and bacterial pathogens, but this is not always the case.


Spotted wing drosophila flies and their damage often are not noticed in backyard fruit crops until fruit is being harvested. Sprays at this time will not protect the crop, because maggots already are in the fruit.

If a small percentage of fruit is infested, you can salvage some of the crop by harvesting the crop immediately and sorting and removing fruit with stings on the surface. Place infested fruit in a sturdy, sealed plastic bag and dispose of it in the trash. A combination of preventive and cultural practices, discussed below in Cultural Control, might be useful for reducing problems on fruit trees and berries. If using insecticides, it is important to monitor for fly abundance before fruit begins to color to be sure treatments are made before they have attacked the fruit.

Varietal Susceptibility

Some cherry varieties might be more susceptible to SWD than others, but more research is required. Among the berries, raspberries appear to be the most susceptible; blackberries and strawberries also are susceptible in coastal climates under very moist conditions when fruit is not harvested frequently. Blueberries also are quite attractive to SWD in moist, coastal environments but less so where moisture is lacking and temperatures are high. All blueberry varieties appear to be susceptible.

Cultural Control

Eliminating any fruit that has fallen on the ground and any infested fruit remaining on plants in the garden can reduce populations of flies that might infest next year’s crops or later-ripening varieties. Infested fruit can be placed in a durable plastic bag, sealed, and placed in the trash. Composting or burying is not a reliable way to destroy eggs and larvae in fruit. Solarizing fruit under clear plastic in the sunshine has been quite successful in killing flies in fruit in preliminary studies performed in Oregon.


Fine netting over whole plants or canes can be useful to keep flies from attacking fruit on blueberries and other small fruit and possibly on branches on small cherry trees. However the netting must be applied before fruit begins to ripen so that flies will not be caught inside the net. Netting must be secured so flies cannot enter, and the mesh size should be very small, such as 0.98 mm mesh used for screening out no-see-um flies.

Early Harvest

Early harvest of fruit can be important in reducing exposure of fruit to the pest. Begin harvest as early as you can and continue to remove fruit as soon as they ripen.


Trapping, as discussed below in Monitoring for SWD, has not been shown to effectively reduce populations of SWD in backyard trees. Trapping is important, however, for monitoring for the pest.

Monitoring for SWD

It is very important to monitor for SWD activity in your susceptible fruit trees and berries. You can use traps to monitor for flies, but it is also important to observe cherry or blueberry fruit regularly as it begins to ripen. In some cases, this will allow you to harvest before problems are serious. Monitoring also will help you time insecticide applications for greatest effect.

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Start checking cherry or blueberry fruit for damage (i.e., prematurely rotting fruit or punctures created when the female lays eggs in fruit) as soon as fruit begins to develop any pink color. SWD stings are tiny, so a magnifying glass will help you see them. You can gently squeeze the fruit to see if juice leaks from the small punctures; this can indicate presence of the pest. Break open suspect fruit to see if small, white larvae are inside. If you find infected fruit you should either harvest all the fruit immediately or spray to prevent the damage from increasing before harvest. The infestation level can increase quite rapidly if fruit are left untreated or unharvested. Remove and destroy infested fruit as you monitor. Stings are not readily visible on raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries, so it is difficult to detect an early infestation by monitoring the fruit for damage.

You also can use traps to detect and monitor SWD adults. Commercial fruit fly traps are available or you can make traps out of 1-quart plastic yogurt (or similar) containers that have a lid. Drill 10 to 16 holes that are 3/16-inch in diameter around the upper side of the container for fly entry. Bait the trap with 1 to 2 inches of pure apple cider vinegar; avoid flavored apple cider vinegars. Add a drop of unscented liquid dishwashing soap to break the surface tension so the flies will drown. Hang the trap in the shade in your cherry tree or near your berries in early May or well before fruit begins to ripen.

Check the trap weekly for small flies with dark spots at the tip of their wings floating in the fluid. These are male spotted wing drosophila and will confirm that you have the pest. Put fresh apple cider vinegar and a drop of soap in each week.

Chemical Control

Because this pest is so new to California, there has been limited research on treatments to manage spotted wing drosophila. Before you spray, confirm that you have SWD in your area by hanging out traps or checking fruit. Sprays must be timed to kill adults before they lay eggs, as sprays will not control larvae already in the fruit. Always read product labels to make sure pesticides are registered for use on the fruit or berry you are treating.

If monitoring indicates a need to spray, the application should be made as soon as the fruit just begins to turn from yellow to pink. This should be about 2 to 3 weeks before cherry or berry harvest. A second application may be needed 7 to 10 days later. In the case of indeterminate fruiting berries such as raspberries or strawberries, sprays might need to be repeated to keep populations low during summer and fall. You can use monitoring traps to help you decide if and when additional sprays might be needed. Be sure to wait the interval specified on the pesticide label before harvesting fruit.

The insecticide spinosad (e.g., Monterey Garden Insect Spray) is effective and has the least negative environmental effects of currently available products. Some spinosad products are sold to be applied with a hose-end sprayer, but a compressed-air sprayer will give more reliable coverage.

The organophosphate insecticide malathion also will control spotted wing drosophila, but malathion is very toxic to bees and natural enemies of other pests in the garden so care must be taken to keep the application on the target plant and avoid drift and runoff. Improper application also can result in injury to cherry trees. Because of the potential negative impact of malathion in the garden, use it only where you are certain you will have a spotted wing drosophila infestation, either because you had a problem last year or from trapping and positively identifying insects this season as SWD.


Dreves, A. J., and G. A. Langellotto-Rhodaback. 2011. Protecting Garden Fruits from Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). (PDF) Corvallis: Ore. State Univ. Ext. Serv. EM 9026. Accessed July 2011.

Walton, V., J. Lee, D. Buck, P. Shearer, E. Parent, T. Whitney, and A. J. Dreves. 2010. Recognize Fruit Damage from Spotted Wing Drosophila. (PDF) Corvallis: Ore. State Univ. Ext. Serv. EM 9021.

Note: This publication was adapted from an earlier publication posted on the UC IPM Web page, Provisionary Guidelines: Management of Spotted Wing Drosophila in Home Garden Situations.


Pest Notes: Spotted Wing Drosophila
UC ANR Publication 74158

Authors: J. L. Caprile, UC Cooperative Extension, Contra Costa Co.; M. L. Flint, UC Statewide IPM Program, Davis/Entomology, UC Davis; M. P. Bolda, UC Cooperative Extension, Santa Cruz Co.; J. A. Grant, UC Cooperative Extension, San Joaquin Co.; R. Van Steenwyk, Insect Biology, UC Berkeley; and D. R. Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension, Kern Co.

Produced by UC Statewide IPM Program, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

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Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance.

Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

Oak Tree: Pests and Disease Control

The oak tree has always been considered the most majestic of heavy-bark trees. The oak is naturally resistant against most common pests and insects found among garden trees. However, an oak tree can occasionally become vulnerable to the following diseases/pests:

Oak Pest Problem: Pit Scales

Pit scales are insects belonging to the Aesterolecanium species. Aesterolecanium are not commonly found in all household gardens. They are endemic to certain soil types and temperature conditions. Pit scales are more common in oak trees grown in humid conditions. The insect is difficult to detect. It appears as small lumps on the bark.


The first sign of pit scaling is the presence of fast-drying leaves and dried-up twigs. Most oak pit scales will have a green and brownish coloration. Aesterolecanium scaling is excessive during the spring season, as the insect multiplies quickly and feeds continuously.


Chemical control is regarded as the most effective solution since organic insecticides are slow to show results against Aesterolecanium. Usually, all insecticides containing heavy concentrations of Acephate are effective.


It is better to spray the oak with oil-based sprays occasionally, even if pit scaling is not present. This helps in immediately killing the eggs of the insects.

Oak Pest Problem: Bark Lice Webbings

The problems are caused by psocids, also called bark lice and tree cattle. Psocids are destructive insects that produce typical silken webbings, found wrapped around the bark. The webbing is not found on the leaves or branches. They should not be confused with garden caterpillars that are seasonal occupants of oaks and don’t cause much damage. Psocids don’t drain nutrition from the tree but feed on useful fungi found on the oak bark. They also feed on surrounding plant matter like mulch.


Noticeable signs include the presence of fine thread-like webbing. Springtime is usually the time when bark lice multiply beyond control. More than nutritional damage, bark lice spoils the appearance of an oak.

Remedy and Prevention

You can use any organic insecticide and seasonally spray it on the bark and the branches. This is the most effective method to get rid of bark lice. Harsh chemical insecticides are rarely needed for this problem.

Common Oak Tree Insects

Oakleaf tier, scarlet oak sawfly (oak slug), gypsy moth, oak leaf roller, and forest tent caterpillar can be found in some garden oaks, but they are not very harmful. They can be easily remedied with a systematic spraying of insecticides, every two months.

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Oak Tatters

Oak tatters affects younger oaks, particularly the leaves, making the foliage look tattered. It is not a common disease among oaks grown in cooler conditions. It can be resolved by using insecticides used for bark lice removal.

Oak Wilt

A fungal infection affecting young and mature oak trees. Red oaks are more vulnerable to wilting. There are no pesticides that can completely cure this problem. Affected trees have to isolated and destroyed, i.e. the entire part that shows signs of excessive wilting has to be cut off and burned.


Anthracnose is caused by a group of tree-growing fungi. White oak is more vulnerable to it. It presents as brown blotches along the veins of the bark. Specific pesticides are available for curing Anthracnose diseases.

Most Common Cool Weather Pests and How to Get Rid of Them

Summer is the season most people associate with indoor pests. But there are insects and rodents that are more likely to invade homes during the winter than the summer. From mice and yellow jackets to fruit flies and raccoons, here are the most common cool weather pests and how to get rid of them.


Rodents like rats and mice head indoors when the cold weather hits. These rodents set up shop in walls, pantries, attics, and closets. You can tell you have a mice or rat infestation by the droppings and chew marks they leave in their wake. Rodents pose a health hazard and can cause serious damage to your home by chewing through walls and electrical wires. You can prevent mice and rats from entering your home by sealing all exterior gaps and openings. You can also set up traps around the house just in case they get inside.


Ants have been known to migrate indoors once the colder weather arrives. These tiny critters can build new homes inside walls or under foundations. Common ants that come inside include pavement ants and odorous house ants. These types of ants are difficult to eradicate once they take hold, so you may need professional help to get rid of them.


All kinds of bugs seek shelter indoors to avoid the harsh winter weather. This includes lady beetles, stink bugs, and box elders. These bugs come indoors to find areas to live in until the weather warms up. The best way to get rid of these bugs is to prevent them from coming inside in the first place. It is usually recommended to treat your home in the summer or early fall to guard against a bug invasion. You should also keep the perimeter of your house free of wood piles, which can be a major hub for bugs.


Fruit flies, cluster flies, and house flies all come indoors during the winter. Flies are particularly drawn to west and south facing exterior walls. If the flies have come inside, you may not notice them until a warm day hits, which usually brings them out of their wintering hole. The only way to combat flies is to make sure they stay outside. Ensure all windows have proper screens and avoid leaving exterior doors open for long periods of time. You can also install fly traps around the house if the infestation is getting out of control.


Some varieties of stinging insects seek out warm places to survive the winter months. Wasps, yellow jackets, and bees are known to ride out the cold weather in attics, garages, and sheds. If you discover a wasp or yellow jacket nest inside your home, proceed with caution. These stinging insects can be more aggressive in the winter. You can keep them from nesting inside your home by sealing the attic, garage, and outdoor buildings.


Raccoons are common cold weather pests in wooded areas of the country, such as eastern states. Raccoons usually gain access through chimneys or attics. These pests come indoors in search of warm places to den. Along with carrying annoying parasites like fleas, raccoons are aggressive and a big source of rabies. You can help prevent raccoons from entering your home by keeping trash cans tightly sealed. Also examine the outside of your home for areas where raccoons can slip inside. Keep a close eye on broken siding pieces and vent covers.


Cockroaches are attracted to houses whenever food and moisture are present. These pests can enter the home through shipping boxes, grocery bags, and gaps in exterior walls. The biggest issues with cockroaches are their ability to contaminate food and transmit harmful bacteria. You can combat cockroaches by keeping your house free of food crumbs and debris. You should also keep tabs on excess water, especially underneath sinks and appliances. If you eliminate water and food sources, cockroaches will not stick around for long.

5 natural ways to get rid of pests

Our world is filled with chemicals. Pesticides are commonly used as a quick way to get rid of any pests that might plague the house, yard, or garden, but we all pay a price for this convenient pest control – the chemicals used to kill those pests get into the environment, contaminate the ground water, and could eventually wind up affecting the adults, children and pets in the household.

That’s why many homeowners turn to organic, natural solutions for pest control. Some of these solutions might not work as quickly or be as convenient as the chemicals sprayed by a bottle, but they come with peace of mind. They might also come with the nice bonus of being cheaper and easily available.

Boric acid

This is a natural mineral that has been refined to create a gentle pesticide. It is a very fine dust, which means that it can be inhaled, and that can lead to irritation – so be careful! However, it is very easy to apply and absolutely lethal to certain insects when used correctly. Boric acid can be sprayed or sprinkled into crawl spaces or used in baits that can be placed behind walls.


This is a natural cleaning solution that is perfectly safe for anyone in the household. It works wonders because it cleans so well; it will destroy the scent tracks and trails left behind by household pests. If ants and other critters can’t find the scent trails they need to navigate, they will quickly go somewhere else.

It can also play a part in other pest control methods. For instance, fruit flies can be banished with a simple solution. Fill an old jar three-quarters of the way with vinegar, add in five to six drops of dish detergent, and then fill the jar up to the top with water. Place it on the counter and wait. The fruit flies will flock to the jar and drown in the mixture.

Diatomaceous earth

This is a fascinating way to kill bugs without any toxic worries for humans. Diatomaceous earth is made of the tiny, fossilized remains of diatoms. The result is a dust called silica. It works by drying out the exoskeleton of certain insects. Many homeowners have had success with killing ants, roaches, bedbugs, fleas, ticks, spiders, and much more by sprinkling this fine dust in problem areas.

Though this is a very safe natural solution to use, be careful with it. Inhaling any type of dust can irritate the nasal passages, getting it into your eyes can hurt, and it can cause dryness of the skin.

Common household remedies

Want to go really organic? Fight certain pests with the plants, fruits, and other everyday items they hate. Tea tree essential oil will repel many insects, including ants. Cedar oil is the bane of fleas and moths. Bay leaves repel weevils, flies tend to hate mint, and catnip will send roaches and mosquitoes scurrying in the other direction.

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You can even take advantage of common household items for pest control. Cinnamon can repel dust mites. Lemon or lime juice can annoy spiders enough to make them go away. Interestingly enough, some swear by strips of Irish Spring soap in the garden to repel deer.

Bats and owls

Sometimes, the best way to control pests is to let the animal kingdom do the work for you. Bats adore mosquitoes, and can devour up to a thousand of them in a single hour. Owls have a taste for mice, and will swoop all over your yard at night, cleaning up the critter population.

Take advantage of these wonderful predators by creating the proper habitat for them. Bat houses made of old barn wood and placed facing southeast for more exposure to sunlight can tempt these tiny predators to stick around. Owl houses or boxes can be placed in more rural areas, where the owls are not close to busy roads or human activity. Then just sit back and watch the population of mosquitoes, mice, and rats diminish with each passing day.

Drosophila: how to get rid of pests yourself?

Consumer Advice to Enhance your Lifestyle

Do It Yourself Pest Control to Save Money

Before you read the title of this post and get discouraged because you have (almost) zero DIY skills remember this; you are receiving this money saving tip from a guy who has (almost) zero DIY skills himself. However, I insist on doing the few house related DIY things that I can do myself, (mowing the lawn, painting, and insulation – dang that’s a short list) and now I can add one more thing to that list – do it yourself pest control.

Doing difficult things helps to build a can-do spirit that is essential for any money-saving individual. There are often many things that we don’t even consider doing ourselves because of the perceived difficulty of that task. I’ve found, however, that the confidence you gain from venturing into a difficult venture or two is invaluable – and actually lends to taking on more hard tasks. Try something new. Try something you perceive to be difficult. And see how it goes! A great place to start is by doing your own pest control.

DIY pest control IS possible – and not really all that difficult!

Bug extermination is something that, if you are anything like me, you are spending upwards of $300 a year on. Well, you don’t have to. After a bit of research, I found out that I can buy the same spray (safe for children and pets) that the pros use and do my own bug zapping. And in my case, I’m pretty sure that I am now using better stuff than my former pest control company.

Ok, so here is how you get the do it yourself pest control ball rolling!

Don’t go to one of the big home improvement retailers.

They only sell the low-class stuff. You want the pro level elixir because it lasts longer and is 10 times more effective (scientific study not included). You really won’t be happy with the results if you stick to what those big box stores have to offer. It’s cheap and ineffective. actually sells some of the professional pest control products.

Let’s be honest, they sell everything. But I actually ended up turning to this site (current coupon code offer of $5 off $50 with “givemea5“). There are several sites like it but I really appreciated the customer service and prices here. They spent 20 minutes on the phone with me calming all my DIY fears. Thanks to the internet, purchasing the stuff that you really need to do it yourself is really easy.

Buy this specific bug killer.

It’s the best Do it yourself pest control solution out there.

It is a well-rounded pesticide that handles a variety of bugs with effectiveness. With that and a sub $15 sprayer, I was good to go. And with that much solution, I can demolish pests for years to come. Seriously, it will make 96 gallons of pesticide. If you aren’t sure about the application process there is a great video on their website that gets you up to speed in no time.

Some of the application basics that you need to know are that you should spray around doors and windows and the exterior base of your entire home. This effectively creates a barrier that bugs can’t safely navigate. You’ll quickly find dead roaches and aunts around the perimeter after you spray. Pay special attention indoors to baseboards, corners, storage areas, window and door frames, behind and under appliances, cabinets, sinks and anywhere else you might be noticing pest activity.

Don’t forget to do the free things that keep bugs away as well like trimming bushes and trees back from off the house and cleaning up any standing water. Not leaving food out for extended periods of time helps keep the bugs at bay too.

I was spending $70 every quarter for my super small house to get sprayed for bugs. I spent less than that on everything I needed to outfit myself for Bugmageddon (that is when the bugs decide to revolt. I’m surprised you haven’t heard about it). My poor math skills lead me to believe that I’ll now be spending roughly $10 a year on bug remediation through the beauty of doing my own pest control. Now that I own four homes, one primary and three rentals, it is even more crucial for me to find outside of the box ways like this to save money. Taking this one simple step out of the hands of a company and into my own is going to save me just over $1,000 a year. And that’s nothing to sneeze at!

To sum it up: Talstar One really is a fantastic product that controls more than a hundred different types of pests around your home. And spraying your home quarterly for pests is easier than you think. It takes me roughly 20 minutes to mix the solution and spray around the entirety of the outside of my 2,000 square foot home as well as hitting some of the important interior locations. That’s really not that much of my time considering the savings I’ve accrued!

Are you sure I don’t need a professional?

There are certainly some circumstances where a professional is warranted. For instance, if you have an intrusion of rats in your basement or squirrels in your attic, it is likely worth it for you to have a professional come to your home to trap or remove those animals if you don’t feel comfortable doing that sort of pest control by yourself. If you notice fresh termite damage you’ll want to contact a pest control company that knows how to remediate termites. However, for the average homeowner, the combination of Talstar One and a cheap sprayer will keep bugs at bay and money in your wallet.

*Safety tip: Make sure to wear gloves when mixing the solution and spraying. Also, be sure to wait until the product is dry before allowing pets and children into areas that you have treated.

Interested in my thoughts after a year of doing my own pest control? I’ve found some other really helpful uses to help save even more money.

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