BDN interviews Handley about fruit flies harming late-season berries

The Bangor Daily News spoke with David Handley, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension specialist of vegetables and small fruits, for an article about the invasive spotted-wing drosophila’s harmful effects on late-season berries. With warm weather prolonging the viability of raspberries and strawberries, the high populations of spotted-wing drosophila being detected could ravish the berries before farmers get to them, according to Handley. While the common fruit fly uses decomposing skin of overripe fruit to lay its larvae and multiply within the fruit, the spotted-wing drosophila is able to pierce the skin of soft-skinned berries that haven’t fully ripened yet and lay eggs within the fruit, Handley said. “When you as a farmer go to pick your fruit, even though it’s barely ripe, it is turning to goo. The reason it has turned to goo is because the larvae in there have started to hatch and are feasting on the fruit,” Handley said. “Your fruit starts to melt away from the inside out.” Since the flies have only been detected in Maine in recent years, Handley said the problems they cause have “really changed the game” in terms of late-season berries. With the spotted-wing drosophila population normally building in August, early berries are generally safe, the article states. Mainebiz also cited the BDN report.