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Species Page

European cherry fruit fly

Rhagoletis cerasi

Distribution

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Host plants / species affected

Main hosts

show all species affected
Prunus avium (sweet cherry)
Prunus cerasus (sour cherry)
Prunus mahaleb (mahaleb cherry)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)

List of symptoms / signs

Fruit - internal feeding
Fruit - obvious exit hole

Symptoms

Fruits attacked by R. cerasi will be pitted by oviposition punctures, around which some discoloration usually occurs.

Prevention and control

Early and complete harvest and removal of infested fruit from the orchard is the best prevention. If possible, wild and abandoned host trees should also be destroyed. Knowledge of first fly appearance is important for a proper timing of control measures and can be determined using forecasting models (Samietz et al., 2007) or yellow sticky traps.

Due to the withdrawal of effective insecticides (such as fenthion, phosmet, dimethoate) and/or reduction of maximum residue levels, control of this pest becomes more challenging in many European countries (Daniel and Grunder, 2012). In some European countries, neonicotinoids (thiamethoxam, acetamiprid) are currently registered for cherry fruit fly control, but these products need a timely precise application for good efficacy (Höhn et al., 2012). More environmentally acceptable techniques have been tried: bait sprays (insecticide plus ammonia source) which can be applied as a spot treatment, have been developed with spinosad (Tommasini and Caruso, 2012) and neem (Boeckmann et al., 2014) but efficacy seems humidity dependent. Good efficacy was observed in experiments conducted in dry climate regions.

With the increasing production of cherries under rain protection to prevent fruit from splitting, crop netting has become an option and provides complete control of this pest (Grassi et al., 2010; Ughini et al., 2010; Brand et al., 2013). Soil covering with nettings against emerging flies is only an option for small scale production (Daniel and Baker, 2013). Biological control based on the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana has been developed for cherry fruit fly control (Daniel and Wyss, 2009, 2010; Caruso et al., 2012) and is currently registered in many European countries (Daniel and Grunder, 2012). The host marking pheromone is a potential, but prohibitively expensive management tool (Aluja and Boller, 1992b) and the sterile insect technique has been tested in Austria with limited success (Russ, 1976).

Impact

R. cerasi is the main pest of cherries in western and central Europe. In unmanaged orchards and solitary trees, infestation rate can reach 100%, whereas infestation rates usually remain below 20% in commercial production (Stamenkovic et al., 2012). However, fruit fly infested fruit cannot be sorted out, therefore the whole lot is rejected if tolerance levels are exceeded (Daniel and Grunder, 2012). Level of infestation mainly depends on ripening time of cherry cultivar: very early ripening cultivars are not affected, whereas later ripening later ripening cultivars show high infestation rates (Bandzo et al., 2012). Increasing damages are recently observed on sour cherries (Stamenkovic et al., 2012). Warm and sunny weather conditions during the oviposition period lead to higher infestation levels.