Cover spraying

Cover spraying is a method that you can use to directly control adult fruit flies on contact, and destroy eggs and larvae within fruit. Cover sprays contain contact/systemic insecticides, and are sometimes mixed with a lure to help protect produce from initial fruit fly infestations. Cover sprays are generally applied to foliage and developing fruit.


  • Effective way to quickly control adults flies, and eggs and larvae present in developing fruit and vegetables.
  • Provides developing fruit immediate protection from further fruit fly attack.
  • Enables you to leave your crop longer on the plant to ripen.
  • Can be applied at a specific time (based on knowledge of fruit fly activity) to prevent initial infestation.

What makes it right for you?

Cover spraying will be right for you if you:

  • Live in an area prone to fruit fly attack.
  • Want to protect your crop from initial infestation.
  • Are willing and able to diligently apply the spray on a regular basis.
  • Want little, if any, fruit fly damage to your crops.
  • Need your produce to ripen on the plant as it is unsuited to being picked green
    are comfortable with using insecticides.
  • Know or suspect that your produce has recently been attacked and you want to control developing infestations.

Factors affecting success

  • Effectiveness of the cover spray product you use.
  • Usage in combination with other control methods such as sanitation and baiting.
  • Timing of the spray application (best before fruit fly have attacked).
  • Adequacy of spray coverage on to plant parts.


  • If you live in South Australia, do not use cover sprays to control fruit flies unless authorised by the department of agriculture or primary industry.
  • Cover sprays can potentially be harmful to human and environmental health.
  • Other insects present at the time of spraying will be killed, including beneficial insects that may be natural enemies of fruit fly.
  • Cover sprays require re-applications on a regular basis (sometimes once every week or two weeks), as well as after rainfall.
  • Protective equipment should be worn when applying cover sprays.
  • Some chemicals are toxic to birds (including poultry) and are not recommended if you keep poultry in your garden.
  • Cover sprays have a withholding period (the period of time that is required to pass before any fruit can be eaten, fruit will need to be washed thoroughly).
  • Thorough coverage is essential for cover sprays to be effective.
  • Cover sprays using different chemicals work best on specific crops.
  • Currently there are no organically acceptable materials registered for use in Australia as cover sprays against fruit flies.
  • Some cover sprays can cause cosmetic damage or fruit drop to particular crops.

What to do

Instructions on how to cover spray your garden plants will vary depending on the spray type and product you choose to use. Make sure that you consult the product label for usage recommendations (always read the product label). It is the user’s responsibility to ensure that registered agricultural chemicals are used in accordance with label (legal) requirements

When to do it

Ideally, cover sprays should be applied when your fruit and vegetables are one half to two-thirds of its full size up until harvesting.

Sourcing products

Many commonly used fruit fly cover spray (insecticide) products are no longer available in Australia. Consult your local garden centre for advice.

Further information

Video: Control of Mediterranean fruit fly in WA backyards
Department of Agriculture and Food WA

Mediterranean fruit fly
Department of Agriculture and Food WA


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