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Genetic Identification of an Unknown Rhagoletis Fruit Fly (Diptera: Tephritidae) Infesting Chinese Crabapple: Implications for Apple Pest Management

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The apple maggot, Rhagoletis pomonella (Walsh) (Diptera: Tephritidae), is a serious introduced quarantine pest in the apple (Malus spp.)-growing regions of central Washington and Oregon. In August 2011, seven fly larvae of unknown origin were discovered infesting fruit of an exotic Chinese crabapple, Malus spectabilis (Aiton) Borkhausen, in Kennewick, Benton County, WA. If confirmed, Chinese crabapple would have represented a new host for R. pomonella in Washington and triggered quarantine measures in a surrounding three-county region of the state. Here, we establish, based on five microsatellite loci, the identity of the crabapple-infesting larvae as the western cherry fruit fly, Rhagoletis indifferens Curran, representing a new host record for the fly. Morphological analysis of six flies reared to adulthood confirmed the genetic identification. The results demonstrate the utility of integrating rapid genetic identification methods with field surveys of economic pests, which decreased detection times by months, and avoided enacting costly quarantine measures that saved local and federal bodies >US$0.5 million in monitoring, inspection, and control costs. We discuss current ongoing efforts to develop rapid, accurate, and inexpensive on site DNA-based detection tools for R. pomonella that would have general applicability for the control of pest insects.

Keywords: Malus spectabilis; Rhagoletis indifferens; apple maggot; microsatellites; western cherry fruit fly

Document Type: Short Communication

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EC12449

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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