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Improved Lure for Malaysian Fruit Flies

A new lure spells trouble for the Malaysian fruit fly. ARS researchers in Hilo, Hawaii, and Albany, California, have developed a blend of compounds as an improved means to detect, survey, and control the pest.

Sometimes called the solanaceous fruit fly, the Malaysian fruit fly, Bactrocera latifrons, lays its eggs in peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and cucurbits. A relative of the infamous Mediterranean fruit fly, it is about the size of a common house fly. It has a rusty-brown abdomen, bright-yellow stripes at the base of its wings, and a single black spot at the tip of each wing.

Native to South and Southeast Asia, the Malaysian fruit fly has now established itself on all major islands of Hawaii. If undetected in contraband produce, it could hitchhike to the continental United States and pose a considerable threat to mainland agriculture.

The easily made blend combines a colorless chemical called alpha-ionol and cade oil—a dark-brown liquid from prickly juniper, Juniperus oxycedrus.

ARS scientists Roy T. Cunningham at Hilo, Robert A. Flath at Albany, and Terrence P. McGovern (deceased) had earlier patented alpha-ionol as a Malay fly lure. Now, ARS experiments in Hawaii with more than 1 million lab-reared Malaysian fruit flies have shown that adding cade oil to alpha-ionol makes the lure more effective. Cunningham and Flath (now retired) and Nicanor J. Liquido, formerly with ARS at Hilo, along with Grant T. McQuate of ARS at Hilo, are currently seeking a patent for their invention.

Made without need for solvents or additives, the blend can be applied easily to wicks like those used in standard insect traps. Traps holding wicks treated with the new blend could be used in detection programs in states like California. There, pest control workers monitor traps year-round to detect outbreaks of other insect species before they build up.—By Marcia Wood, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.

For technical information about patent application number 09/120,521, "Attractants for Bactrocera latifrons (Hendel)," contact Grant T. McQuate, USDA-ARS U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center, Stainback Hwy., P.O. Box 4459, Hilo, HI 96720; phone (808) 959-4300, fax (808) 959-4323.

"Improved Lure for Malaysian Fruit Flies" was published in the September 1999 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

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