P.E.I. agriculture officials are requesting pesticides for emergency use to deal with the potential threat of a fruit fly that targets blueberry crops.

The spotted wing drosophila, or SWD, has been found in Maine and Nova Scotia and officials say it is only a matter of time before it arrives on the Island.

Chris Jordan, berry crop development officer with the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture said his department wants to be prepared.

"It is actually called SWD, spotted wing drosophila, and it's a small fruit fly that attacks fruit while it's developing and while it's ripe and it can make the fruit unmarketable," Jordan said.

"There is equipment that is moved between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and the SWD can come in on other fruit products and it can fly... so the chances are very likely that we can get it."

Jordan said monitoring for the pest began last year in five P.E.I. blueberry fields and monitoring traps will be put in place again this year.

Fly a problem in other provinces

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency approved emergency use registrations for pesticides to control the flies last June in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia for use on berry crops and stone fruit.

In 2009, SWD caused an estimated $2.2 million in damage to the British Columbia cherry industry.

SWD is an invasive vinegar fly originating from Asia that has the potential to cause extensive damage to many thin-skinned fruit crops.

The SWD will attack fruit such as raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, cherry, plum, peach, nectarine, and sometimes grape. Ongoing studies by Oregon researchers indicate that soft-skinned fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes may also be at risk.

The fly was first identified in North America in 2008 in California and quickly spread across the U.S. and Canada.

Researchers from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency believe SWD may have been introduced on fresh fruit imported from infested areas.