By Jacky Cronin, Seed Savers Albury-Wodonga
Most productive gardeners will be shaking in their collective gumboots in anticipation of this year’s fruit fly season. With our nice wet winter and promises of bumper summer crops we are sure to attract huge amounts of fruit fly to our region.
Queensland fruit fly are the source of more bad language in my garden than any other pest. They have ruined crops of quince, plums, peaches and nectarines. And it’s not only fruit on trees that’s affected. I have found fruit fly maggots in tomatoes, capsicum, eggplants and even chillies! (Technically these are all fruiting plants.)
As an organic gardener the choices in organic fruit fly control are limited. While there are a couple of organic sprays on the market it means having to spray or splash bait every week. And non-organic splash bait control methods still require the use of a fairly nasty pesticide. Admittedly this is not sprayed on fruit but as an organic gardener I still object to using it in any form. Plus I’m too lazy and irregular in my spraying.
I find the most effective control is exclusion netting. Commercially bought fruit exclusion bags are made of either paper or cloth. Or the whole plant or tree can be protected by using fine, light weight exclusion netting. This may need to be supported by framework. To me this netting is a blessing. At the start of the season we net our large trees. We also grow our tomatoes and other self-pollinating solanums under a netting covered frame. So basically it’s “net and forget”, every lazy gardeners dream!
Other methods you can use to lessen the impact of fruit fly are: Make homemade male traps to indicate fruit flies in your area. Prune your fruit trees to a more manageable height. Pick up fallen fruit regularly. Let chickens roam under your fruit trees to clean up any pupae and missed fallen fruit. Destroy unwanted host trees. Help your neighbours to understand this problem and work together to destroy unwanted or neglected fruit trees.
Oh and badger anyone who will stop and listen about our fruit fly problem. We on the border are now deemed a “Qld fruit fly endemic region”. Give other gardeners these organic solutions too.
It’s all up to us. Good luck with your fight this season!
Google fruit fly netting, vegie netting and exclusion bags and netting to find online suppliers.