News - July 3, 2015

Big net to catch little flies

Albert Sikkema

Wageningen UR’s fruit research centre at PPO in Randwijk has recently wrapped its cherry orchard in ultrafine netting. The researchers are hoping to keep the spotted-wing fruit fly at bay this way.

<photo: Guy Ackermans>

The spotted-wing drosophila fruit fly has become a major pest for fruit growers in recent years, and it loves cherries. The insect lays many eggs in ripening cherries, causing an explosion in the fly population. The spotted-wing drosophila fly, which comes from Asia, survived last winter well, notes researcher Herman Helsen. To keep off the miniscule flies, the research centre has covered the cherry trees with netting with a mesh of less than one millimetre in width. Commercial cherry growers have put such nets in place too. Helsen is interested to see how the cherries will survive the tropical weather over the next few days, as the trees now get less light and air because of the fine gauze.


Besides monitoring the spotted- wing fruit fly, the fruit research centre is also testing organic pest control methods and insecticides for controlling this insect plague. Helsen hopes to find subtle methods of disrupting the fruit fly’s reproduction.