SWD can be difficult to control unless prompt measures are taken. Good crop hygiene and trapping can give some protection, combined with careful insecticide application and covering crops with fine (less than 0.98 mm) mesh.
Trapping and monitoring
The best way to prevent damage to fruit is to monitor for the adults and to catch them. Traps and lures are available from Agralan and some other suppliers or similar traps can be made at home. More information on trapping including demonstration videos are available from the AHDB. Grouping two or three traps together can give better results. In cherries, plums, currants, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and other hybrid berries, it is best to put the traps on the shaded side of the plants.
In gardens or allotments that border wilder areas, copses or woods, place the traps in the fence or border line first as these will catch any SWD living in the natural habitat before they can reach the garden fruit plants. In small fruit plots using several of these traps for monitoring can help to attract adults away from fruits.
When checking traps to see if any SWD have been caught, it is can help to pour the liquid contents through a sieve over the kitchen sink. The contents of the sieve can then be gently sprayed with water using a hand held plant mister to remove the lure. Allow the insects trapped in the sieve to dry before shaking them over a white tray or card to examine them. A hand lens or magnifying glass can greatly ease the task of checking for the distinctive black spots on the wings of the male flies.
If SWD adults are found in the traps, you can exclude them from fruit by using very fine mesh netting (less than 0.98 mm), to protect the plants from the adults.
Keep trapping and monitoring until the end of November even if crops have finished to reduce populations for next season.
SWD has been found to overwinter in wild and wooded areas, so if possible such areas in the vicinity of a garden should be monitored through the winter and spring months. This will indicate if SWD is present near a garden and highlight the need for further monitoring and control measures from spring onwards.
In addition to monitoring and trapping, ensure good levels of crop hygiene are maintained in and around fruit plants to avoid attracting SWD. Pick fruit when it is ripe and don’t allow old, damaged or diseased fruits to remain on the plants or lie on the ground. Remove overripe fruits and all waste and dispose of responsibly.
Do not dispose of fruit on a compost heap as this could attract more SWD. Compost heaps can provide a perfect breeding site for SWD which will only further increase the size of the population in and around a garden. Dispose of fruit in rubble sacks, readily available from hardware stores. These need to be sealed to prevent adults from escaping and if left in the full sun for several days, the adults will be killed by the high temperatures experienced inside.
Once fruit has set covering it with netting can exclude the adult flies and reduce crop damage. These can be made at home or premade sleeves are available from Agralan
- In addition to trapping, garden pesticides can be used to help control the adults, although their use is unlikely to completely eliminate the fly
- The most effective means of control is to use a combination of monitoring, trapping and spraying
- Do not spray plants in flower due to the danger to pollinators
- Some products that can be used on a range of fruit are natural pyrethrum/pyrethrins (e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Defenders Bug Killer)
- Synthetic pyrethroid lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g. Westland Resolva Pest Killer) or deltamethrin (e.g. Provanto Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer) are available for use on many fruit crops
- The neonicotinoid acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) is also available
- Manufacturer’s instructions on maximum dose, number of applications and harvest interval must be followed for food crops and the fruit must be listed on the label
- Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by RHS Gardening Advice. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener
Pesticides for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining pesticides available to gardeners)