Choosing a control strategy

Choose the best control strategy for the fruit fly problem in your home garden. This can be tricky because each method has advantages and disadvantages.  The strategy you select not only needs to be dependable, but also needs to consider your preferred gardening style, situation and lifestyle.

Follow these five steps when deciding on a fruit fly control strategy:

1. Confirm the identity of the pest

For optimal control and management of fruit fly, you should first confirm the identity of the pest since maggots found in fruit and vegetables are not necessarily fruit flies – see fruit fly species. Mistaken identity of the pest could lead to ineffective control.

2. Consider your situation

When considering various fruit fly control strategies, spend some time thinking about the following questions:

  • With total removal of fruit fly being unlikely, are you prepared to control fruit fly on an ongoing basis?
  • Are you willing and physically able to undertake particular control methods?
  • Do you live in an area prone to fruit fly attack and want to control the pest, or do you want to prevent the pest from gaining a foothold in your garden?
  • Do you prefer to use low impact (i.e. organic) methods over chemical methods?
  • Do you grow large quantities of crops or small amounts?
  • Can you tolerate some fruit fly damage to your fruit and vegetables?
  • What fruit and vegetables are prone to fruit fly attack in your garden?
  • Do you need to grow plants that are prone to fruit fly attack or could you replace some with non-preferred ones?
  • Are there any control methods that you can not implement because you rent?

3. Use an integrated approach

Unfortunately there is no one single magic solution to fruit fly. Instead, your control strategy will need to rely on a combination of methods to effectively control the pest. You will need to use a combination of garden hygiene practices such as sanitation and pruning to prevent fruit fly proliferation and adult female flies from laying eggs in your fruit and vegetables.

4. Start early with a control strategy

Once fruit flies have infested your fruit and vegetables, there is often little you can do to save your crops. Many a gardener has experienced the surprise, and disappointment, of finding fruit fly larvae (maggots) in their fruit after not taking control actions early enough. Therefore you must take action at the beginning of the season (spring) to prevent fruit fly damage. Choose a control strategy and implement it well before fruit is ripening and before the fruit fly season gets going. If you are uncertain about whether the control strategy you select will be effective, get further advice from your local state or territory department of agriculture or primary industries (contacts).

5. Evaluate your strategy

Once you have chosen and implemented a fruit fly control strategy, evaluate its effectiveness. Consider the effectiveness of your strategy based on the following questions:

  • Has there been a clear reduction in fruit fly numbers or crop damage?
  • Did the control methods in your control strategy suit you?

If you found that the strategy you used was not as effective as you would have liked, consider another one that better suits your situation.

Suggested control strategies

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