GROUND CONTROL: FRUIT FLY
05 Sep 2011
Don't let them eat your food! Try these organic commercial and homestyle methods to get rid of these pesky invaders
Ground control: fruit fly
Don’t let them eat your food! Try these organic commercial and homestyle methods to get rid of these pesky invaders
One of the most destructive pests in today’s home and commercial gardens is Drosophila melanogaster, better known as the common fruit fly. There are more than 100 species of the little devils, but only 6–8 of these are considered serious pests by the gardening industry.
Each year, fruit fly damage costs Australia millions of dollars in loss of productivity. In Asia, the costs run into billions and for years farmers have been battling to control this nasty pest with the use of chemical insecticides. However, this has proven to be an expensive exercise, damaging to the environment and limited in its success.
Fruit that has been affected can go undetected until it’s too late. Signs of fruit decay begin to appear in various forms, indicating the fruit fly larvae has well and truly set up shop. Although more commonly found across the tropics of Australia, reports of fruit fly sightings have indicated that this warm-weather-loving pest has reached gardens as far south as Victoria.
Fruit fly has no preference when it comes to choosing its host plant, destroying all types of fruit and vegetables, from tomatoes and eggplants to cabbages. Given its name, it’s obvious that no fruit tree in your garden is safe, nor are your vegetables any more.
How do you recognise this pest? The female fruit fly has big red eyes and a yellowish-brown body, which is slightly longer than the male’s body, which also differs in colour and has a distinctive black patch on its abdomen. But it’s the female we need to control by stopping it from laying its eggs on plants. At the same time, we do need to stop the male from mating with the female.
There are many different products available to control fruit fly but it’s important to choose one that’s environmentally safe. Yates Nature’s Way Fruit Fly Control, for example, attracts and kills fruit flies. Its active ingredient, Spinosad, is one of a new class of organic chemicals derived from a naturally occurring soil bacteria. It contains a protein and sugar bait designed to attract and control Queensland and Mediterranean fruit flies and has no withholding period.
Dimitrios Athanasakos, who has been gardening for more than 80 years, shares his own secret methods for catching and controlling fruit flies. These have worked for him for the past 40 years, which in our books is a pretty good recommendation.
Make your own fruit fly trap
A fruit fly trap is the best way to a) know when fruit fly are present in your garden and b) attract them away from your precious fruit and vegies.
1. Carefully cut a 3–5mm hole in the side of a two-litre plastic drink bottle.
2. Add to a bowl 200ml of Coca-Cola with 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of Vegemite. Mix well and pour the solution into the plastic bottle.
3. Using a piece of twine, hang the bottle from a tree branch about waist to head height above the ground.
4. Inspect your trap every day or two and replace the solution on a weekly to fortnightly basis.
Note: For large trees, 3–4 bottles will be required to be effective in controlling fruit fly.
Make your own organic deterrent
This is a quick and simple way to deter fruit flies from your garden and send them straight into the trap.
1. Add to a large pot 1–2 crushed garlic bulbs, 4 chopped chillies, and a sprig of rue (a herb native to southern Europe), then add 4 litres of water and bring to the boil.
2. Allow to cool and strain solids from solution.
3. Using a spray bottle, spray the solution on your plants weekly.