There’s no rest against fruit fly pest

Fruit Fly Nov. 1, 2023

It’s a seasonal pest, but the fight against fruit fly is a year-round battle that never ends.

Even when there is no fruit on your tree, or trees, the risk remains frighteningly real.

Bugs for Bugs has been helping Australian growers manage this pesky and destructive fly for more than 40 years but has learnt a few tricks of its own in that time to tackle this difficult but manageable pest.

Using a systematic and comprehensive approach based on the use of the following:

• Protein baits - to attract and kill female flies

• Male annihilation technique (MAT) - to attract and kill male flies

• Monitoring – inspection of crops regularly and use male traps

• Sanitation – removal of residual fruit after harvest

• Destruction – neglected fruit trees

Combined and maintained, these strategies offer excellent control.

However, certain high-risk crops may need additional tools including female traps or insecticide cover sprays.

Insecticide cover sprays should only be used as a last resort because they are toxic to beneficial insects and not compatible with an integrated pest management system.

Protein baiting with fruit fly lure

Fruit Fly Lure is an easy to mix, Australian made autolysed protein which, when mixed with a toxicant, becomes a highly effective lure to attract and kill Queensland fruit fly and other fruit fly species.

A female fruit fly must feed on protein before she can sting fruit, mixing the lure at a rate of 2litre to 100litres of water and applying on day of mixing at 15litres per hectare will achieve the best results.

This is not a cover spray and is applied as a spot or band to the host plant or suitable substrate.

Application must begin early, before fruit becomes susceptible, and should continue for at least three weeks after harvest or until all remaining residual fruit is gone.

The lure must be applied every 5-7days (more often if there are signs of damage or increased fly activity) or reapplied after a rain event.

For the best results:

• Start early

• Apply regularly and don’t miss a treatment

• Increase frequency during high risk periods

• Apply mixture to foliage or trunk of host plant (not on ground or grass)

• Test before use and minimise fruit contact (may cause fruit burn on some varieties)

• Treating surrounds and non-fruiting blocks will improve results

• For longevity and rain-fastness, use in conjunction with Fruit Fly Lure Thickener

Male annihilation with mat cups

Mat cups are a powerful management tool designed to reduce male fruit fly populations and must be used in conjunction with protein baiting.

Available in two styles – an impregnated cotton wick in a plastic housing or a biodegradable cardboard cup with an impregnated cardboard inner – both styles are designed to protect ingredients from rain and UV degradation.

Containing a powerful male sex attractant (cue lure) and a toxicant, the male flies are attracted to the cup and die as a result of ingesting it. When used for successive seasons and across entire cropping regions, the MAT cup can significantly reduce fruit fly populations.

Application requires 10-20 MAT cups per hectare, dependent on crop sensitivity and local fruit fly pressure. New cups must be applied in spring, summer and autumn.

MAT cups compete with male fruit fly traps and it is important to take this into account when using male traps to assess fruit fly activity.

Monitoring with fruit fly trap pro

A key element of any pest management program is monitoring populations to understand the level of activity in any given area.

The Fruit Trap Pro catches only male fruit flies and must be used in accordance with regular crop inspections looking for adult flies and evidence of stinging, these traps do not control fruit fly per say.

The Fruit Fly Trap Pro comes in two colour variations (clear base with yellow lid and yellow base with clear lid) and attracts male Queensland fruit flies.

Placed in active fruit fly areas including along borders and rivers and water ways, the traps are hung in host trees at head height and shaded from direct sunlight.

Containing a cotton wick impregnated with a powerful male sex attractant (cue lure) and an insecticide, the trap attracts male flies from distances of up to 400m allowing for easy collection and counting.

For best results traps must be recorded and emptied weekly. The pheromone Q Fly Wicks is available from Bugs for Bugs and must be replaced every three months.

One trap is required for every 5-10ha, with a minimum of three traps per farm

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