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Media Release - 19 September 2017
 
Planning ahead is the key to controlling fruit fly

Loquats are one of the problem-fruits in the GSPFA -- they ripen early providing an ideal early haven for QFF


Photograph courtesy Applied Horticultural Research

Home gardeners wanting to harvest clean fruit this summer are being reminded to start now on control measures for Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF).

The Greater Sunraysia Pest Free Area (GSPFA) committee said many early varieties such as apricots, some peaches, nectarines, plums and loquats, ripen before Christmas.

Regional Coordinator Deidre Jaensch said that means people need to start their control measures now.

“Fruit flies are very good at multiplying rapidly – one fertile female can lay more than 500 eggs in her lifetime and in ideal conditions her eggs can become egg-laying adults in four weeks,” Ms Jaensch said.

“Timing is everything and research has shown us that early control is essential in reducing the numbers of Queensland Fruit Fly,” she said.

Ms Jaensch said living in Sunraysia has always meant being able to enjoy growing fruit and vegetables in the backyard with relatively little effort. Many commercial properties have planted fruit trees along boundaries, and as wind breaks, and these are often not included in their normal insect control program.

“But fruit fly being established here now means that our fruit trees don’t just look after themselves anymore,” she said.

“We have to think about things differently, and make sure we are able to manage our gardens and the amount of crop they produce so we don’t contribute to the build-up in numbers. “

Ms Jaensch said backyard gardens provided ideal conditions for fruit flies to rapidly multiply, with warmth and shelter allowing the pests to survive over winter and a cool, humid microclimate over summer.

Many gardens have a variety of fruit and vegetables which means the fruit flies can continue to lay their eggs all season moving from one tree to the next as they ripen.

“Controlling fruit fly in home gardens prevents reinfestation of the commercial areas and that makes a huge difference to which markets our horticultural industries can access, as well as their costs,” Ms Jaensch said.

“It is possible to grow good quality fruit and vegetables but people need to put a number of control strategies in place and not rely on only one method.”

Ms Jaensch said good control would be achieved by reducing the height of trees to a more manageable size; removing fruit after fruit set to reduce crop loads; using insect netting or sleeves to create a physical barrier; and picking fruit early.

“Don’t leave over-ripe fruit on the tree as leaving one or two fruit can be just a bad as applying no control during the entire season,” Ms Jaensch said.

Protein bait sprays can be bought from local nurseries, hardware or chemical agricultural suppliers and they will need to be applied once flies start to emerge, at least 6-8 weeks before harvest, with some requiring reapplication on a weekly basis. Male and female traps not only kill flies but are essential in working out when flies are active. More traps are available from local chemical agricultural suppliers, hardware stores.

 “Controlling fruit fly costs time and money and some people may think it is not worth the effort,” Ms Jaensch said.

“Many people have removed unwanted or unmanageable fruit trees, which removes the ongoing work and is a permanent solution to controlling the pest, because it reduces available food and shelter and stops the fly from completing its lifecycle.

“We’re also reminding commercial growers to look at their entire property and make sure wind breaks and property boundaries planted up to host trees, as well as home gardens, are included in any insect pest control program.”

For a limited time, the GSPFA has funding from the Victorian Government and industry charges to remove host fruit trees from urban gardens (conditions apply).

Target host trees are early ripening varieties such as loquats, apricots, plums, nectarines and peaches.

To register your tree for removal or for further advice please contact the Greater Sunraysia Pest Free Area on 5022 0327 or IDC@greatersunraysiapfa.com.au or contact us via our website www.pestfreearea.com.au.

IMPORTANT

Remember, almost every type of fruit and fruiting vegetable is a potential host for fruit fly.
 

  • Don’t bring fruit or vegetables into the Pest Free Area
     

  • Advise visiting friends and relatives not to bring fruit or vegetables with them