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Scientific Note




Divender Gupta*1, Ranjeet Singh Bhatia1 and Joginder Paul Sharma2

1 Department of Entomology, 2College of Horticulture, Dr Y.S.Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni (Solan)-173230 HP, India


Received: 24 January 2014 Accepted: 19 November 2014 Published: 31 October 2013


Geotags: India, Himachal Pradesh, Narkanda [31.27º N  77.45º E].


In Himachal Pradesh, situated in the North-West Himalayan region in India, maggot infestation was recorded in the ripening fruits of cherry, Prunus avium, the extent of which varied between 30 to 40 per cent. The flies were observed laying eggs inside the fruit by inserting their ovipositor. The flies were small (2-3mm), males have blackish spot at the apical end of the fore wing and also had two comb like patterns on the fore leg. The female bears a serrated ovipositor, which made it different from other Drosophilid flies. The fly was identified as Drosophila suzukii and this is the first detailed record of it from India.

Cherry, Prunus avium Linnaeus is an important stone fruit crop grown in the North-West Himalayan region and its cultivation is mainly restricted to Northern part of the India mainly in the two states namely Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. For the last two to three years, there were reports by the orchardists, of maggot infestation in the orchards at Narkanda (2700 m amsl) and surrounding areas of District Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India situated at a longitude of 31.27º N and latitude of 77.45º E.  During 2013, a preliminary survey was carried out mainly to identify the insect pest associated with the problem and determine the infestation levels. Three orchards of cherry each at Jhanga (2100m amsl), Bahli (2000m amsl) and Narkanda (2700m amsl) were observed for fly infestation near ripening stage of the fruit.

The extent of infestation ranged between 30-40 per cent at all the locations, which was determined by observing 100 fruits/orchard at different locations for fly infestation.  The infested fruits turned soft, appeared collapsed and later shriveled on the trees itself (Figure 01.a), and later fell off to the ground. The flies were observed with the help of a field lens (10x) in the cherry orchards for their behaviour.


Figure 01

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Figure 01. a. Shriveled fruits on the tree b. Female ovipositing inside the fruit c. Pupa on the exterior of fruit d. Male with black spot on the apical margin of fore wing e. Male with two comb like patterns on the fore leg f.(i) Female showing serrated ovipositor (side view) f.(ii) Female showing serrated ovipositor (ventral view) g. Pupa showing projections.


These flies were very small, the females of which were observed laying eggs inside the fruit by inserting their ovipositor (Figure 01.b). At the place of egg laying, a small depression was found on the fruit from where the juicy ooze was also seen coming out in some of the infested fruits. In a single fruit, 5-7 maggots were recorded feeding on the pulp and the infested fruits due to secondary infection started rotting. Pupae sticking to the outer surface in some of the infested fruits were also seen (Figure 01.c).

The infested fruits were brought to the laboratory and the larvae were reared up to the adult stage. The adults so emerged within 7-10 days were preserved and the photographs of different stages were also taken. The insect specimens were observed under microscope for their identification as per the identification guide (Van Timmeren et al., 2012).

These flies were quite smaller (2-3 mm) than the true fruit flies (Tephritids) (2-3 cm) and looked like common vinegar flies generally found in the kitchens hovering over the fermented or overripe fruits and vegetables, but the fly in question, preferred the fresh fruits near ripening stage and were more robust than common vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster Meign. Generally these flies may be confused with the D .melanogaster owing to many similarities like red eyes and amber coloured body. But in the fly, which were collected  in the field as well as reared from the infested fruits, the following characteristics were recorded which are not found in other Drosophillids as per the identification guide:

  • -Male flies have a black spot near the apical margin of the fore wings (Figure 01.d).

  • -In the fore legs of male, two sets of combs looking like a band were also seen (Figure 01.e).

  • -The female has prominent serrated ovipositor with the help of which it inserts the eggs inside the fruit (Figure 01.f (i &ii)).

The pupae were 2–3 mm long, cylindrical, reddish brown with two small projections at the posterior end (Figure 01. g) whereas, the pupae of Tephritids are barrel shaped, quite large (5-7mm) and do not bear the projections. Pupation occurred either inside or on the exterior of fruit. Whereas in the case of Tephritids, the pupation takes place in soil when the full fed maggots coil and jump for finding suitable pupation site.

So based on their behaviour in the field and matching of morphological characters as per the identification guide, the fly was identified as Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura) (Drosophilidae: Diptera), commonly known as Spotted Wing Drosophilla (SWD), which is first ever record from India. According to  Cowles, 2013 (Personal Communication), D. suzukii is the only Drosophillid capable of laying eggs in otherwise sound cherries and by observing this behavior, and rearing the resulting larvae to adults with the characteristics like saw-like ovipositor or spot on fore wing in the male, is all that is necessary to confirm  D. suzukii.

This polyphagous invasive fly, native to South-Eastern Asia (Delfinado and Hardy, 1977; Hauser, 2011) was introduced into North America and Europe in 2007 and 2008, respectively, and is now widespread in North America (Hauser, 2011) and in Europe (Calabria et al., 2012; Cini et al., 2012). Unlike other closely related Drosophila species that infest mainly damaged and over-ripened fruits and are not considered serious pests (Zhu et al., 2003), SWD can break skin of maturing and undamaged healthy fruits and oviposit into them using a serrated ovipositor, thus making it of great concern as a pest of maturing and ripening fruits (Kaneshiro, 1983; Mitsui et al., 2006; Steck et al., 2009; Lee et al., 2011a; Walsh et al., 2011; Calabria et al., 2012). In the western U.S., it is considered a significant threat to soft skinned fruits such as berries, grapes, and cherries (Beers et al., 2011; Goodhue et al., 2011; Lee et al., 2011b; Walsh et al., 2011).

As it is spreading very fast, urgent management measures are required to be taken as these flies being direct pest have zero threshold and render the fruits unfit for human consumption.




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Site this article as:

Gupta D., Bhatia R.S. and Sharma J.P. (2014) Spotted wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii Matsumura) infestation in cherry – first detailed record from India. - The Journal of Tropical Asian Entomology 03 (1): 50-54