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Extension Expert Update on Pest Insects, Blight Outlook

Jim Dill, University of Maine Cooperative Extension professor of biological sciences and pest management specialist, is available to discuss the status of several seasonal insect pests, including mosquitoes, black flies and a new arrival in Maine, the spotted wing drosophila, a fruit fly that threatens soft fruit and vegetable crops.

Also know as the Asian fruit fly, the spotted wing drosophila was captured for the first time in Maine last fall. The fly, about the size of the little fruit flies that buzz around bananas, arrived on the West Coast four years ago and in that short of time made it across the country.

“It can be a very serious pest of small fruits, especially late season strawberries, raspberries and blueberries,” Dill says. “Unlike its cousin, which likes those over-ripe bananas or other fruit, this new pest will attack ripening fruit in the  fields. We are working on a trapping and mapping system to see where they are in Maine.”

Dill can also discuss early season mosquitoes, which are just beginning to show. These snow-pool or snowmelt mosquitoes, as they are called, Dill says, are late this year due to lack of snow and early spring rains. In the last couple of weeks, however, rain has started filling in depressions and other areas where last season’s mosquito eggs wait for water to cover them, which enables them to hatch. Black fly females are starting to show up and are biting; males show up earlier than the females.

Dill also can recommend management methods for white grubs, which are destroying lawns in many parts of Maine, and late blight, which can devastate tomato and potato crops.

Contact: Jim Dill, (207) 581-3879; George Manlove, (207) 581-3756

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