Spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, is a serious invasive pest impacting the production of multiple fruit crops, including soft and stone fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and cherries. Effective control is challenging and reliant on integrated pest management which includes the use of an ever decreasing number of approved insecticides.
New means to reduce the impact of this pest that can be integrated into control strategies are urgently required. In many production regions, including the UK, soft fruit are typically grown inside tunnels clad with polyethylene based materials. These can be modified to filter specific wavebands of light.
A recent study investigated whether targeted spectral modifications to cladding materials that disrupt insect vision could reduce the incidence of D. suzukii. A novel approach is presented that starts from a neuroscientific investigation of insect sensory systems and ends with infield testing of new cladding materials inspired by the biological data.
It's shown that D. suzukii are predominantly sensitive to wavelengths below 405 nm (ultraviolet) and above 565 nm (orange & red) and that targeted blocking of lower wavebands (up to 430 nm) using light restricting materials reduces pest populations up to 73% in field trials.