UGA studying parasitic wasps in South Ga.

Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 8:52 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Thursday, two members of the University of Georgia’s Department of Entomology joined WALB’s Jim Wallace about a recent research project at the university.

“Ashfaq Sial and Cera Jones, thanks for joining us. You have a very interesting research project that involves South Georgia crops and parasitic wasps. Ash, what is the origin of these wasps? How are they getting into Georgia to experiment with?” Wallace asked.

“Thanks for having us. This wasp is an exotic wasp of the Asian region. The search for this wasp began soon after this invasive pest was spotted, the spotted winged drosophila, was detected in the mainland USA, in California in 2008. Since then, a large team of researchers from multiple institutions funded by USDA NIFA has been working to get permission to establish these colonies and release them out into the field. It took us several years for us to get permissions, but last year our permits were approved and now we have this wasp actually spread into labs that were involved in the project. And we are one of those labs. We are establishing colonies to get these wasps released to control spotted winged drosophila, the key pest of small and soft-skinned fruits,” said Sial.

UGA studying parasitic wasps in South Ga.
UGA studying parasitic wasps in South Ga.(University of Georgia)

“Of course, that means something to South Georgia, because you are using these wasps right now in South Georgia to try to help some crops,” said Wallace.

“Yes, since the wasps, ganaspis brasiliensis, since they are specialists in fruit flies, primarily the spotted winged drosophila, we are releasing them in South Georgia to benefit any growers of soft-skinned fruits, primarily our focus is on the blueberry growers. So we already released 500 to 1200 wasps at three farms, where we have identified the spotted winged drosophila in the area. Ultimately, we would like to see a reduction in the SWD. population. And that would lead to a reduction in insecticide use by our growers,” Jones said.

UGA studying parasitic wasps in South Ga.
UGA studying parasitic wasps in South Ga.(University of Georgia)

“Ash, what’s the future of this? What’s the big picture of this kind of research?”

“In the long term, we would like to develop an integrated approach that will include a number of these natural solutions to minimize the use of insecticides to control this fly and increase the productivity of the small fruits for our farmers.”

UGA studying parasitic wasps in South Ga.
UGA studying parasitic wasps in South Ga.(University of Georgia)

“It’s exciting research that’s being done by the University of Georgia here in South Georgia. And we hope it has a great success,” Wallace said.

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