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Spotted Wing Drosophila

Drosophila suzukii

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Damage | Description | Life Cycle | Management | For More Information

Summer fruit tortrix caterpillar and leaf damage on cherry
Adult male spotted wing drosophila. Photo: Martin Hauser, California Dept of Food and Agriculture
Summer fruit tortrix adult male at rest on leaf
Adult female (left) and adult male (right) on raspberry. Photo: Hannah Burrack, NC State Univ.
Summer fruit tortrix moth resting on a branch
Larva inside raspberry. Photo: Hannah Burrack, North Carolina State University,
Summer Fruit Tortrix Adult Female
Vinegar trap. Photo: Hannah Burrack, North Carolina State University,

The spotted wing drosophila is a vinegar or fruit fly of East Asian origin. It has been in Hawaii since the 1980s, but was first discovered in California in 2008, and Florida, Utah, the Carolinas, and Michigan in 2010. It has many hosts, but is most often attracted to grapes, cherries, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and other soft-flesh fruits.

First trap catch in New York


Spotted wing drosophila deserve notice because, unlike other fruit and vinegar flies which lay their eggs on past ripe or rotting fruit, they lay their eggs inside fresh fruit, often before harvest. Aside from the superficial scars left by the female's ovipositor (their egg-laying device), most damage is done by the maggots feeding inside the fruit. After only a few days, the skin will collapse and create craters in the fruit, making it susceptible to decays and rots. It is possible, however, for them to leave no visible impact on the fruit, only detectable once the fruit is picked and prepared for eating.


Just as one could imagine from the insect's common name, male spotted wing drosophila have a single black spot on the tips of their wings. Females lack this particular trait, making them more difficult to identify, but both genders have distinct red eyes. What sets female spotted wing drosophila apart from other fruit flies is the black, saw-tooth edges that line either side of their ovipositor. While spotted wing drosophila generally have striped abdomens like so many other fruit flies, females tend to have a wider black band at the very end. Spotted wing drosophila are a medium sized fruit fly, generally about 0.08-0.12 inches long.

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Life Cycle

Females use their ovipositors to cut through the surface of the fruit into the flesh, where they then lay approximately 1-3 eggs per fruit, 7-16 eggs per day. Damage is initially a small scar on the fruit's surface, but after 5-7 days of the larvae feeding inside, the skin collapses and the fruit may turn soft and begin to rot. The larvae then exit the fruit to pupate, taking anywhere from 3-15 days for adult flies to emerge. As adults, the lifespan of spotted wing drosophila can be as short as 8-14 days or, in mid-season at optimal conditions, as long as 3-9 weeks. In its native land of Japan, spotted wing drosophila have roughly 13 generations per year, and upwards of 10 per year are predicted to occur in the United States, depending on the climate


The simplest means of monitoring for spotted wing drosophila is with a basic red wine/apple cider vinegar trap, although a mixture of yeast, sugar, and water has proven to be very effective as well. A plastic cup and secure lid with several medium-sized holes drilled around the top of the cup filled with an inch or two of either mixture can serve as a trap. Hang these from a tree branch or stake/pole in the ground with a strong but malleable wire in an area where SWD would likely be found. There are also commercial traps available. Traps work best when they are serviced/cleaned at least once per week; by placing a coffee filter or sieve inside a funnel, the funnel over a container to catch the trap liquid, the flies can be retrieved by dumping the trap's entire contents into the funnel. Because spotted wing drosophila have such small defining features, the only real way of knowing whether or not there are any in the trap is to look at all of the specimens under a dissecting microscope. A combination of trapping to know when they've arrived at the fruit planting, and immediate disposal of infested fruit is good practice for protecting crops.

For More Information

Spotted Wing Drosophila. 2012. NEIPM Regional Pest Alert.

SWD in NY Distribution Maps – 2012 (475k pdf file)

Cornell fruit blog

Cornell Fruit Resources, Berry Pest Alerts

Spotted Wing Drosophila Working Group, NE IPM

SWD Resource Database from the Northeastern IPM Center

Michigan State University’s SWD site

Spotted Wing Drosophila fact sheet, UC IPM Online

PA IPM, Spotted Wing Drosophila, Individual sections in PDF format:

SWD Part 1. Overview & Identification

SWD Part 2. Natural History

SWD Part 3. Monitoring

SWD Part 4. Management

Oregon State Univ., SWD website

Spotted wing drosophila - General information, NC Small Fruit & Specialty Crop IPM

Spotted Wing Drosophilia (SWD), New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food

USDA APHIS, Plant Protection & Quarantine Pest Alert

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Authored by Juliet Carroll and Kelsey Peterson, New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell University