Knowledge for a sustainable world

Developing a ‘push-pull’ strategy for the management of Drosophila suzukii

The Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) (Drosophila suzukii) causes serious economic losses in global horticulture by feeding and ovipositing in ripening fruit. Adult insects overwinter in woodland as winter morphs before moving into fruit crops in spring and transitioning into egg-laying summer morphs. Current measures to control the summer morph rely on the spraying of insecticides and expensive hygiene practices and have not been successful in preventing the spread of the insects across Asia, the United States, and Europe. Relatively little research has been performed on the winter morph, despite its importance in maintaining SWD populations. The research aims to develop a new control strategy for the year-round protection of fruit crops from D. suzukii.  Through a multidisciplinary approach encompassing electrophysiology, lab bioassays, and semi-field experiments, I have identified several naturally derived chemicals that repel both the summer and winter morph. In the future, these chemicals could be formulated to contribute to year-round protection of crops from SWD. As part of my BBSRC-CTP PhD, I have enjoyed undertaking industrial placements in the horticultural sector and have conducted a grower survey to ensure that the technology I am developing will meet the needs of end-users. 

Primary Supervisor: Daniel Bray
Secondary Supervisor(s): David Hall, Dr. Charles Whitfield (External), Dr. Michelle Fountain (External)

Christina Conroy is a full-time PhD student who obtained her BSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and MSc in Entomology from Harper Adams University. Her BSc project examined preference-performance in insect herbivores. ‘Does mother know best?’’ while her MSc studied the effect of intercropping as a method to reduce pest incidence in the bird-cherry oat aphid (Rhopalosiphum padi). Following her MSC Christina worked at NIAB EMR as a Research Entomologist, developing new strategies to reduce the economic impact of a range of pest species on the UK horticultural industry. Christina joined the NRI at the University of Greenwich in 2017 to begin her PhD as part of a BBSRC-CTP funded program. Christina’s research aims to use multi-disciplinary approaches to ensure any resulting technological developments can have maximum impact as both relevant and practical to growers’ needs.

  • Conroy, C. 2020. The ANTicipation for a trip that BLOWed. Antenna. In Press.
  • Morris, M.G., Mendel, H., Barclay, M., Booth, R., Cannon, M., Conroy, C., Csokay, L., Fisher, C., Fountain, M., Jay, C. (2017) Anthonomus spilotus Redtenbacher, 1847 (Curculionidae) new to Britain, a pest in pear orchards in Southern England. The Coleopterist. 26(2), 117–122

Awards and Prizes

  • February 2020: Winner – RES Student Essay Prize (Royal Entomological Society)
  • November 2019: Winner – Best Poster (Berry Gardens Research and Agronomy Conference)
  • October 2019: Highly Commended Poster (2019 Postgraduate Researcher Excellence Awards)
  • November 2019: Winner – Best Poster (AHDB, EMR – Soft Fruit Day)
  • November 2018: Winner – Best Poster (Berry Gardens Research and Agronomy Conference)
  • November 2018: Runner Up – Best Poster (AHDB, EMR – Soft Fruit Day)
  • July 2018: Winner – Unleash Your Ingenuity Award
  • May 2018: Winner – The Early Researcher Prize
  • September 2016 - Harper Adams Scholarship
  • September 2015 – The Roberts Prize (awarded for best BSc dissertation in animal related courses)


  • Society of Chemical Industry
  • The Verrall Association of Entomologists
  • Royal Entomological Society
  • Natural Resources Institute Postgraduate Society
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