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In 2014, more spotted-wing Drosophila suzukii than ever before were observed in Germany. This pest lays its eggs in fresh and ripening fruits before they are harvested. Infested fruits are often additionally infected with bacteria and fungi, and become unsuitable for sale and further processing. Currently, the only way to effectively control this pest insect is through the use of insecticides. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology have now identified a leaf odor which is highly attractive to Drosophila suzukii. Beta-cyclocitral lures the spotted-wing drosophila but no other related drosophilids. Researchers were able to measure the olfactory specialization of the insect to this leaf odor on the basis of the response of a certain sensillum.
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