Enhancing control of the soft- and stone-fruit pest Drosophila suzukii (Spotted Wing Drosophila) by exploiting its activity patterns in the field (Studentship)


The Problem:

This project will identify the daily and season behavioural rhythms of Drosophila suzukii (spotted wing drosophila, SWD) in order to exploit its behaviour for future pest control in UK fruit crops. It will determine the environmental factors that affect behaviour and how these interact with pesticide efficacy and trapping.

The project will be a novel and exciting new collaboration between the University of Southampton and East Malling Research. The student will gain skills in crop husbandry, chronophysiology, ecology, pest management, and data analyses and interpretation.
D. suzukii is a currently a seriously damaging pest of soft- and stone- fruit crops. In 2014 fruit picking in some crops had to cease as the pest became too abundant in the fruits. To achieve more efficient management of this newly invasive pest it will be useful to predict the daily and seasonal fluctuations in behaviour to target strategies for more effective control. The proposed project will test daily patterns of activity, feeding and egg laying under spring, mid-summer and autumn conditions simulated in the laboratory. Further laboratory experiments will identify the contribution of light, temperature, humidity and internal timekeeping mechanisms to these observed rhythms. Parallel field trapping experiments will verify D. suzukii behaviour patterns in vulnerable crops and in wild areas where D. suzukii is known to overwinter. Once these parameters are understood the student will examine the vulnerability of the various stages to pesticide applications and how pesticides interact with field temperatures and D. suzukii behaviour, throughout the day, in their efficacy. Finally, grower recommendations regarding the likely activity and control of D. suzukii based on time of year, time of day, and weather conditions will be made.
Project code:
CP 142
01 October 2015 - 30 September 2018
AHDB Horticulture
AHDB sector cost:
Project leader:


CP 142_Report_Annual_2017 v2 CP 142_Report_Final_2018 CP 142_Report_Final_2018_GS CP 142_Report_Annual_2016

About this project

Aims and objectives:
Project Aim:
To investigate daily and seasonal rhythms of Drosophila suzukii locomotor activity, feeding, and egg laying and formulate recommendations for field detection, trapping, and crop protection.
1) Determine how temperature, photoperiod, and internal time keeping mechanisms affect rhythms in D. suzukii including locomotor activity, oviposition, and feeding
2) Validate predicted D. suzukii daily and seasonal activity patterns in the field
3) Test trapping devices and approved chemical and biochemical plant protection products on the most vulnerable life stages, including optimal field temperatures for control of D. suzukii
4) Formulate recommendations for optimizing D. suzukii detection and control strategies for susceptible UK crops