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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Spotted wing drosophila in the city

Spotted wing drosophila mating pair outside a Wake County, NC home.  Photo: Matt Bertone.

Entomologists at the North Carolina Nature Research Center and NC State University are partnering to count the creepy crawlers and unseen critters that live inside our houses, and have found spotted wing drosophila (SWD) during their search.

Led by Michelle Trautwein, Assistant Director of the Biodiversity Laboratory at the Nature Research Center, Arthopods of Our Homes seeks to understand the diversity of insects and other arthropods in homes and how human residents influence their populations.  In the handful of houses the team has sampled so far, they have found over 100 species.  Not necessarily a surprise to us entomologists, who know insects are all around us, but it is exciting to demonstrate such diversity so close to home!

Eagle eyed dipterist Matt Bertone, part of the Arthropods of Your Home team, spotted two mating SWD in the yard of a recently sampled home and collected a few others inside.  The flies inside are particularly interesting, as we suspect that man made structures may help adult flies overwinter because they don't diapause, or hibernate, like many other insects.  Understanding how common SWD is in non agricultural habitats and during what times of year we can find them will help us develop whole-system management tools, not to mention help us understand how significant a concern they may before your backyard garden.

Matt will be record SWD finds as part of the SWD*VMN (Spotted Wing Drosophila Volunteer Monitoring Network).  You can find the record for the first one here.

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