Problematic Pair of Pests for Strawberry Growers

Jaci Schreckengost Strawberry, Top Posts

Spider mites and spotted wing drosophila (SWD) have caused many issues for strawberry growers in the Southeast.

Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris, assistant professor of entomology and Extension specialist at Clemson University, said these two pests have caused strawberry growers to create a new management plan for both pests.

In some smaller productions, Schmidt-Jeffris said growers may not have to worry about spider mites due to the natural enemies that are found in the crop. However, pesticides used in the field to protect crops from other issues can negatively affect the natural enemies, which can allow the spider mites to infest the crop.

Schmidt-Jeffris said that the use of pyrethroids on crops can induce a spider mite infestation, therefore growers are advised not to spray pyrethroids unless absolutely necessary.

While there are some chemicals that can control spider mites, she said these pests become resistant to pesticides in a very short period of time.

Another insect affecting strawberry crops is the SWD, which lays eggs into ripened or ripening fruit, Schmidt-Jeffris said. SWD can lay eggs in many soft-skinned fruits, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and cherries, she said.

“This invasive species … has made strawberry management, and pretty much all of our small fruit management, more complicated than it used to be,” she said.

These two insects can cause a large amount of strain for southeastern strawberry growers. While many growers have successfully integrated management strategies to protect their crops from SWD, these practices can affect the natural enemies to spider mites and allow them to infest the plants.

Now, Schmidt-Jeffris said it is important for researchers to find and promote management strategies that allow strawberry growers to protect their crop from both SWD and spider mites.

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Jaci Schreckengost

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