Bug Blog

Fruit Fly Repellant In Embryonic Stages

Fruit Fly Repellant In Embryonic Stages

Fruit flies are on the hunt, looking for blueberries and cherries and any other delicious summer bounty they can land on.  The flies are mostly a nuisance to consumers, but to farmers they are the source of major crop destruction.

The climate in many European countries as well as northern California is ideal for Drosophilia suzukii, who meanders through the skies in search of fruit for laying eggs.  Once the fly’s brood is securely positioned on a nice round blueberry, for instance, the laid eggs use the fruit as shelter and food during the hatching process.  The result is destroyed fruit, on the order of millions of dollars worth each year.

A professor of entomology at UC Riverside is leading the experiment.  Anandasankar Ray has found a compound that naturally occurs in fruit, chemical compound with a pleasing odor called Butyl anthranilate, that also repels fruit flies.

The research is its early stages and needs more work to turn the finding into a non-toxic repellant.  The next step is a patent, then EPA approval, before a potentially magical fruit fly solution could be brought to market.