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Baiting

What it is

Baiting is a control method that you can use to help reduce adult fruit fly numbers in your home garden. Bait sprays consist of a liquid food (protein) attractant and an insecticide. Baits are generally sprayed on to the foliage and trunks of trees and plants. Both the male and female adult flies are attracted to the baits while foraging over the leaves for food and are poisoned after feeding on the spray droplets.

Benefits

  • Baiting controls both the female and male adult fruit fly
  • Only small amounts of chemical (insecticide) are used through baiting
  • Baits are generally not attractive or harmful to beneficial insects that may be natural enemies of fruit flies
  • Organic baits have low risk to human health
  • No withholding periods as baits are not applied directly to fruit

What makes it right for you?

Baiting to control fruit flies will be right for you if you:

  • live in relative isolation in an area with low fruit fly pressure
  • are willing and able to diligently apply bait sprays in the garden
  • grow large quantities of crops or heavy bearing fruit trees (where exclusion may not be an option)
  • tolerate some fruit fly damage to your crops
  • want to use a  low impact control method, with the option of using organic products
  • are alright with the idea of using a cover spray if baiting does not give adequate fruit fly control
  • keep foraging poultry in your home garden

Factors affecting success

  • Timing of the first bait treatment you apply
  • Effectiveness of the bait spray product that you choose to use
  • Proximity of your garden to nearby sources of fruit flies
  • Amount of fruit fly pest pressure in your area
  • Regularity of treatments and fruit fly pressure
  • Practicing baiting in combination with other control methods such as sanitation
  • Proper application of bait sprays on to plant foliage and tree trunks
  • Need trapping to see if baiting effective, if not noticeably reduce fly numbers, then need to cover spray

Considerations

  • If you live within the Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone in New South Wales or South Australia, do not use baits unless you have been authorised by your local department of agriculture or primary industries
  • Baiting requires diligence, with sprays applied on either a weekly to bi-weekly basis, depending on fruit fly numbers, as well as after rain
  • Bait sprays need to be applied careful to avoid contact with fruit which may cause fruit burn
  • Safety to humans when using baits is based on the insecticide used
  • If baiting is not significantly reducing fly numbers, you may need to cover spray

What to do

Instructions on how to bait spray will vary depending on the product you choose to use. Make sure that you always read the product label details for specific spray application instructions, usage recommendations and label (legal) requirements.

When to do it

The time to start your baiting program may vary depending on the product you use. But generally, you should start baiting before:

  • the adult fruit flies become active (i.e. when the first adult flies have been detected or found in traps)
  • five to six weeks before fruit ripens, and sometimes even before the plant flowering stage (that occurs before fruit formation)

Sourcing products

A range of fruit fly spray products, both organic and chemical, can be sourced from commercial suppliers.

Further information

Organic Farming: Managing Fruit Fly in Citrus PDF [233KB]
A Victorian fact sheet

Managing Queensland fruit fly in citrus PDF [410KB]
A New South Wales fact sheet

Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF): control strategies for the home gardener PDF [72KB]
A New South Wales fact sheet

Control of Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Medfly) in Backyards
A Western Australian fact sheet

Fruit Flies in the Home Garden PDF [46KB]
A Northern Territory fact sheet