The spotted wing drosophila, a fruit-loving insect that attacks berries and tree fruits, has been detected in North Dakota for the first time.
It was discovered in a cherry fruit sample from the North Dakota State University Carrington Research Extension Center. The damaged fruit sample was submitted to the NDSU Plant Diagnostic Laboratory and identified by Patrick Beauzay, NDSU Extension Service entomologist.
The tiny spotted wing drosophila belongs to the fruit fly or vinegar fly group. It is two to three millimeters long and has bright red eyes, a light brown body and dark brown stripes on its abdomen. It is native to Japan, Korea and China.
It was first detected in the U.S. in central California in 2008 and is now widespread in fruit-producing areas. This is the first confirmed record for North Dakota.
It was detected in western Montana in 2011 and southeastern Minnesota in 2012. Human-assisted transportation, rather than natural dispersion, is most likely the cause of its rapid spread, because the spotted wing drosophila does not fly far.