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More resources are needed to identify and control alien insect pests.

round the clock we have scientists scanning the heavens looking for unseen objects that could destroy us. Asteroids cruising in space or crossing the path of earth are lurking.


There is another invasion, or a series of them, picking up steam and most people are totally unaware unless they are involved in horticulture.

It used to be we would get a new invasive pest every five or maybe even ten years. Things are different now. Consumers are overjoyed to have more choices in a variety of foods and choice is good. However, more vigilance needs to be employed as those new imports from around the world bring new pests that can destroy our crops. In recent years we had the old suspects codling moth and such, then the new kid on the block was apple clearwing moth (ACM). This little critter weakens the tree and lays eggs at an alarming rate. We learned more and more about the habits and lifecycle of these two pests; however, more resources are needed and few real choices when it comes to controlling populations and reducing pest counts. There is some benefit to area-wide control and using pheromone lures to disrupt the mating cycle may work for ACM, but we have a long way to go.

Remember, I said there was a long time between new pests? Not any more. We now have a new pest every few years. No sooner did we begin the battle against clearwing when a new visitor arrived, This little guy is very destructive, attacking soft fruit right at the time of maturity, and has the temerity to ration its eggs and larvae to one per cherry.

The lifecycle of spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is short but its


By Fred Steele Be ever vigilant, the invasion is on...

breeding habits are prolific and those in the soft fruit business are always under attack from the moment the fruit is ripe. Cherries and soft fruits, berries such as blueberries, strawberries and

raspberries are targets as well. The timeline has changed. ACM and SWD came within a few years of each other. These pests are not native to our areas or even North America. These are Asian and European pests and in addition to rapid population gains they have few predators here in North America, if any.

There are others out there on the way and we have to be ready to deal with them when they arrive. A recent arrival in the United States is Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, a native pest of Japan and China. So far we have not trapped any in B.C., but the area infested in the U.S. seems to be expanding. These bugs are a sucking insect; they destroy not only cherries and soft fruit but harm a very wide range of crops including corn and trees.

It should be noted B.C. is the only place in North America that does not play host to the Apple Maggot. The alarm is ringing, though, as one fly was trapped in West Kelowna in 2015.

Surveillance is increasing for the coming year to make sure there isn’t more out there waiting to spread the problem.

These are serious problems, but even worse that we don’t know what else is on the horizon. It is said the world is smaller now with imports and trade and changing climates. It is one thing to know they are coming or have already arrived, it is another to be ready to act quickly and communicate effectively in order to control or quarantine a new pest outbreak.

In the United States monitoring and control is handled through the universities, while in Canada it is done more at the federal government level.

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2016

So what are the options left to us in a changing world? It used to be we just collectively sprayed the hell out of everything.

Today that is no longer acceptable. We can’t embargo all fruit and vegetables coming in from around the world, either. The most viable solution is an area-wide integrated pest control management system. However, for new arrivals we need much more than this. At present we need more resources for the detection of invasive pests when they first arrive. We need adequate funding to monitor and detect the lifecycles and how these pests adapt. The BCFGA is working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and grower reps from across the country to develop a Biosecurity Guide for the Fruit and Tree Nut Industries to help growers play a role in avoiding pest and disease outbreaks (expected to be launched at this year’s Canadian Horticultural Council meeting).

But we need more for the unavoidable introduction of a new pest. We need to find better ways to eradicate populations or control them when they are newly introduced and at manageable levels. If we simply wait until populations are at epidemic levels it may be too late to have any measure of control for the foreseeable future. Let us consider the codling moth problem we had a generation ago. Little was done except heavy spray programs for decades. The pest built up immunity to the chemicals we had and the chemicals being used became more expensive and more hazardous to the environment. Area-wide management through the distribution of sterile moths, clean up of commercial orchards and derelict host trees (mainly on residential lots) got control of population and now through monitoring and sterile insect release we have manageable populations. However the introduction in the first place and then letting the populations get out of control, meant the cost to regain control was large and the need to maintain

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