Exotic fruit flies like the Queensland and Mediterranean fruit fly are among the most serious pests of fruit tree gardeners in warmer regions everywhere.
Plant Part: Fruit
Season: End of Spring - Summer
Symptoms: These pests burrow into the soil. The brown pupal cases are about 5 mm long and look like somewhat elongated hens’ eggs. They become active around the end of winter, when the weather begins to warm. The flies lay their eggs in small groups just beneath the skin of the fruit. When the larvae hatch, they generally make their way to the centre of the fruit.
Control: Infested fruit must be removed from the ground or from the tree and destroyed by burning or boiling. Maggots will also be killed if the fruit is sealed in a plastic bag and left in the sun for several days. It must NOT be buried as this simply continues the normal life cycle of the insect.
Traps will only kill the adult fly but used in conjunction with sprays are generally effective – you need to remove all infected fruit straight away. If the infestation is extreme, then consider using a mixture of systems to control the fruit flies; fruit fly traps set up with Lures and MAT cups to kill the flies. Biotrap offers a range of fruit fly management options including short and long term traps, and fruit fly netting. Visit their website here.
Spraying can kill eggs and larvae in the fruit. If choosing to use a chemical spray avoid sprays with Fenthion (particularly toxic to birds). Previously, suitable fruit fly baits were a mixture of Maldison and protein (lure) but you need to be careful using Maldison as it is harmful to bees. Naturalure™ fruit fly Bait concentrate is a good all in one product to try. Apply per the manufacturer instructions.
Prevention: Good garden hygiene is critical to controlling these pests. The most effective way to prevent fruit flies damaging your produce is to use fruit fly or insect proof netting. Such netting can be bought from garden centres and online retailers. Insect proof netting can be draped over trees and other crops or supported by a frame. Netting needs to be put up after pollination has occurred.
References: QLD Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, WA Department of Agriculture & Food, Sustainable Gardening Australia, Apal, thanks to Biotrap for images, and our FST team.
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