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Ovipositional preference, fidelity, and fitness of Drosophila suzukii in a co-occurring crop and non-crop host system

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Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura) is a devastating pest of soft-skinned fruits including blackberries and raspberries. Management of this pest is focused on preventing infestation in crops, but non-crop hosts may play an important role in enabling D. suzukiito persist in the absence of cultivated hosts. Drosophila suzukii may also infest fruits of both crop and non-crop hosts concurrently. Our goals were to determine whether (1) D. suzukiiprefers to oviposit in cultivated blackberry, Rubus L. subgenus rubus Watson, or American pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, a non-crop host commonly found along field edges, (2) D. suzukii prefers to oviposit into the same host from which it emerged, and (3) performance differs between D. suzukii progeny that develop in blackberries or pokeweed berries. Although the pest was able to infest both hosts at the same rate, we found that D. suzukii females emerging from pokeweed preferred to oviposit into blackberries, while females emerging from blackberry had no preference. Progeny that developed in blackberries were more fit than progeny that developed in pokeweed berries based on several measures. In field locations, cultivated blackberries and pokeweed berries only overlapped in availability for a short period of time, and infestation rates were variable between blackberries and pokeweed berries collected during that period. Nonetheless, these results suggest that non-crop hosts may facilitate the invasion of D. suzukii and perpetuate infestation of cultivated hosts under certain circumstances.

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We thank our cooperating growers for asking the questions which led to the conception of this study and permitting use of their farms. We thank Connor Thomas, Aurora Toennisson, Tiffany Moore, and Linda Della Rosa for assistance with fruit dissections and larval counts. We appreciate the commentary and discussion from the Burrack lab group which assisted in the interpretation of our results, and we would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers who provided helpful feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript.

Author contributions

LMD and KASB conceived and designed research. LMD and KASB conducted experiments and analyzed data. HJB supplied laboratory materials and support staff. LMD and KASB wrote the manuscript with advice from HJB. All authors read and approved the manuscript.


This research was conducted with support from the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation (to KASB and HJB), a USDA Southern Regional Integrated Pest Management Grant (2013-34103), and a USDA APHIS cooperative agreement (15-8130-0194-CA to HJB).

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Correspondence to Lauren M. Diepenbrock.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Lauren M. Diepenbrock and Katharine A. Swoboda-Bhattarai have contributed equally for this work.

Special Issue: Spotted Wing Drosophila

Communicated by A. Biondi.

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Diepenbrock, L.M., Swoboda-Bhattarai, K.A. & Burrack, H.J. Ovipositional preference, fidelity, and fitness of Drosophila suzukii in a co-occurring crop and non-crop host system. J Pest Sci 89, 761–769 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10340-016-0764-5

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  • Spotted wing drosophila
  • Host preference
  • Fitness
  • Invasive species