Living in Qld one of the essential tasks I need to do with my fruit trees and bushes is to monitor and limit the impact Qld fruit fly can have in my system.
Qld fruit fly is a problem of our own creation. While it is native to our region, we have introduced species that allow it to thrive if not maintained, and like with all things in our systems - we need to design with maintenance in mind.
Typically Qld fruit fly is about 7mm long and is a reddish-brown with yellow markings. It is mostly active in the spring and summer periods, but I have noticed with the higher temperatures they have are engaged through to late autumn.
Fruit mostly affected are the summer fruits such as peach, nectarine, apricots, citrus, tomatoes, eggplants and capsicum.
The female fruit fly lays its eggs in the fruit and then when they hatch the maggots eat through the fruit until they reach approx6/7mm long when either the fruit falls to the ground or the maggot drops from the fruit. The maggot then creates a hard shell where it gestates for a few weeks. Then the pupae hatches and the cycle begins again.
While hard to control, there are several measures we can use to help.
Firstly good hygiene will help prevent fruit fly problems.
Pick up any fruit left on the ground daily and on the tree after the harvest.
You can burn the infest fruit, or I like to cut them open and then give them to my chickens of ducks to clean up.
Do not put the fruit into your compost or you could potentially make the problem worse.
Some like to net their trees with fruit fly netting, but I found this a costly option, and if one female Qld fruit fly gets under the mesh, they will lay approx 500 eggs, and the cycle begins again.
Occasionally allow my ducks to wander through my system during the season to allow them to find any of the pupate that has found its way into the soil
I do, however, like to use traps with my homemade mix to help keep the numbers to an acceptable level.
400ml of hot water
One heap teaspoon of sugar or honey
One heap teaspoon of vegemite
some cut up the leftover citrus peel. (what we usually have in surplus)
Combine the ingredients and mix until the sugar and vegemite are dissolved and then allow to cool. Place the mixture in a container and hang near the garden or orchard.
I replace this approx every three weeks.
While not foolproof, the combination of keeping the ground and plants clean of falling or rotten fruit and the traps and allowing my ducks though the system generally means we have little infestations. And to be honest, they work even better if we get our neighbours and community on board too.
They are small steps, but they do need to be maintained consistently - Little things often rather than on large action.