Ardèche: hundreds of insects released to fight against Drosophila Suzukii, this fly which ravages cherries

Ardèche: hundreds of insects released to fight against Drosophila Suzukii, this fly which ravages cherries
Ardèche: hundreds of insects released to fight against Drosophila Suzukii, this fly which ravages cherries

Could the future of the Ardèche cherry trees be in the hands of a small insect from Asia? Hundreds of Ganaspis were introduced this Tuesday on a cherry tree plot in Désaignes. This insect from the wasp family, no larger than a gnat, is a natural enemy of Drosophila Suzukii, these flies which lay their larvae in cherries and wreak havoc. So much so that last year, Drosophila Suzukii caused an average of 20% loss on Ardèche cherry trees and threatens the entire sector.

“A glimmer of hope”

For the moment, it is an experiment but this project is already raising a lot of hope for cherry producers. Benjamin Vignal and Cynthia Cellier, market gardeners and arborists, agreed to host the first release of Ganaspis on their plot. Last year, they lost 80% of their harvest because of the Suzukii fly. “We are very happy that things are moving forward, to see that there are solutions other than chemistry that are being developed. I can’t wait to see the results.” confides Cynthia.

Benjamin Vignal and Cynthia Cellier, two cherry producers in Désaignes. They welcomed the first release of Ganaspis on their plots. © Radio France
Louise Joyeux

For Christel Cesana, vice-president of the Ardèche Chamber of Agriculture, this may be the beginning of the end of the devastation on the cherry trees: “It’s really a glimmer of hope for the agricultural world. We hope that we will finally have an acceptable population of Drosophilia in our orchards. To have some insight into the future, because the losses are too great. This tiny little insect is able to do what we cannot do!

Twelve years of research

Since 2012, research engineers from INRAE ​​(the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment) have been working in the laboratory on these Ganaspis, a means of biological control against Drosophila Suzukii. “The Ganasis parasitoids will lay eggs in the larvae of the fly, develop in the larva and feed on it,” explains Léa Darmedru, assistant engineer at the Sophia Agrobiotech Institute.

The larvae which pose a problem will therefore never see the light of day. But for now, This is not a miracle solution., warn scientists. “This is a new step which will take a few years before we can conclude on the effectiveness of this species in the regulation of Drosophilia Suzukii”, explains Nicolas Borowiec, research engineer at INRAE.

The next releases of Ganaspis will take place towards Vesseaux and in the south of Ardèche in an area which has yet to be determined.

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