Sour Rot-Spreading Fruit Fly Threatens Bordeaux Vineyards

After damaging vineyards in the West Coast, Canada, Switzerland, and Spain, a fruit fly threatens healthy vineyards in Bordeaux

(Photo Modified: flickr/herry lawford)

An Asian fruit fly is attacking healthy vineyards in several of the world's wine regions, and has now reached Bordeaux. (Photo Modified: flickr/herry lawford)

An Asian fruit fly (Drosophila suzukii) known as the spotted-wing drosophila, no more than three millimeters long is quickly becoming a “growing menace” to Bordeaux winegrowers, reports Wine Searcher. The fruit fly is capable of spreading sour rot through ripening grapes, and have “an alarmingly rapid” cycle of reproduction.

Unlike the common vinegar fly which similarly plagues vineyards, but only appears on damaged fruit as it cannot pierce grape skin, the spotted-wing drosophila has ovipositor —the organ used by female flies to deposit eggs — with a hard and serrated edge.

The female fly has no trouble piercing the thick skin of a healthy grape, even before it reaches full ripeness, and can lay eggs inside the fruit, which feeds the larvae, and help spread sour rot.

The spotted-wing drosophila has already done damage to vineyards in the West Coast, Canada, Spain, and Switzerland. At present, the best method of treatment is prevention. "Right now, today, we don’t have a way to eradicate it,” enologist Jean-Philippe Fort told Wine Searcher.

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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.