Kurashima prepares to irradiate male melon fly pupae to sterilize them.
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Winning the Fruit Fly Battle in
Hawaii By Kim
February 6, 2004
Service scientists in Hawaii are leading the first successful effort to
deal with the exotic fruit flies that have devastated Hawaiian farms and
gardens for a century.
The program is not only controlling fruit flies and improving
Hawaiian agriculture, but also may help keep foreign fruit flies out of the
United States. If exotic fruit flies became established in California, the
direct and indirect losses could amount to $1.4 billion annually in that state
The Hawaii Area-Wide Fruit Fly Integrated Pest Management
Program (HAW-FLYPM) is under the
direction of ARS entomologist Roger Vargas at the agency's
U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural
Research Center in Hilo, Hawaii. The program, a joint effort of ARS, the
Hawaii Department of
Agriculture and the University of
Hawaii, depends primarily on a system of field sanitation, biological
controls and lures, rather than chemical insecticides.
Growers on three Hawaiian islands have already been recruited as
cooperators, and more are joining every growing season. Aloun Farms, one of the
largest and most diversified farms in Oahu, has already been able to reduce its
insecticide use by 60 to 70 percent. By enabling farmers to cut back on
insecticide spraying, the program benefits the Hawaiian environment.
Fruit fly control is also allowing farmers to grow more types of
crops. Because of fruit fly problems, Earl Yamamoto of B.E.S.T. Farm in Waimea
had been limited to growing peppers and melon crops. Now he's experimenting
with blueberries and has added zucchini and persimmons.
Persimmons are a popular fruit crop in Hawaii, but many orchards
were abandoned as fruit fly problems worsened. Now, persimmon trees are being
planted again, and harvests are increasing.
Read more about this research in the
issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.