While there are a wide range of insects that you might find in your garden, both pests and beneficial species, the larvae (or maggots) of fruit flies can turn some fruits and vegetables into a soft, mushy mess. The adult female fruit fly lay eggs in the flesh of ripening and ripe fruits and vegetables. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae begin to feed within the fruit, causing it to rot and drop to the ground.
There are two main species of fruit flies within Australia: Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni is its scientific name) occurs in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and is an Australian native species; and Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) occurs only in Western Australia, mostly in the south-western parts. See more information on the pest species.
The potential impact of fruit flies
Australia’s horticultural production is valued at over $9 billion and employs over 60,000 people. However, a large proportion of that production is susceptible to attack by fruit flies. As a result, commercial producers around Australia collective spend hundred of millions of dollars on various control measures and also suffer production losses.
In severe cases, fruit fly maggots can be found in a large proportion of a harvested crop, even every harvested fruit. In this case the crop is considered worthless. While in a home situation it might be possible to cut away small sections of affected fruit, this isn’t possible on a commercial scale.
Many crops that are considered hosts are only susceptible under certain circumstances, and commercial producers take rigorous steps to keep the fruit they produce and sell free from damage. However, even the potential that fruit could be carrying these damaging pests results in many markets requiring expensive treatments before allowing fruit to enter their state or country. These treatments can be a large part of the cost of supplying fruit and vegetables to domestic and international markets.
Which crops are attacked by fruit fly?
Fruit flies attack and damage most kinds of soft skinned fruits and some harder skinned commodities. Crops such as summerfruit, citrus, apples, pears, loquats, berries, grapes, olives, persimmons, tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant, and mangoes can all be attacked. A broader list of fruit fly hosts is available from Agriculture Victoria.Fruit Fly Host List (agriculture.vic.gov.au)