Fruit Fly Control Methodologies

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 Methods of fruit fly control have not changed markedly over the last decade. The following are the methods that people can consider:

Dick Drew:  1. Protein Bait Spray: Pinnacle Yeast Autolysate applied as a spot spray to fruit trees, usually gives adequate control when applied over large areas (i.e. in small urban backyards, it is usually not very effective unless a number of households implement the strategy collectively). For best results, the protein is applied in approximately 50ml spots per tree when the fruit on the trees are at the mature green to ripe stage. That is because the fruit trees bearing ripening fruit attract the flies into the area, which can then be targeted with the baits.

2. Netting: Using 50% shadecloth or other netting with a similar gauze size will exclude fruit flies. This works well in the small urban environment (backyard, lot, etc.). It has the advantage of excluding birds, possums, and other pests that feed on fruit, as well as giving protection against fruit flies. For fruit trees, it is best to prune them to a manageable height, and then cover the entire tree with the netting. Trees that cannot be pruned can have branches covered in netting sleeves.

Sheryl  –  I will be making up some sleeves using various types of netting so you can slip them over whole branches as some of the bags that were used by members were not successful.


  • Focus on fruits that fruit flies don’t like.
  • Pick fruits while still hard, before the fruit flies sting them eg pick pawpaw just as they turn yellow.
  • Bag all fruits.
  • Eco Naturalure attract male and female flies.

Try making a fruit fly trap. All you need to buy is a small bottle of methyl eugenol which is a pheronome attractant. Use an empty one gallon milk plastic bottle. Dip an ear cotton swab in the methyl eugenol and attach it to the lid, so that the cotton dipped swab is on the inside of the bottle. Punch a few pea sized holes on the top of each side of the bottle. Place an inch of soapy water, dishwashing soap, on the bottom of the container. The flies will enter, fly around and drown in the soapy solution. Hang these bottles away from your mango trees. Inspect weekly and empty as necessary. I have read also of people using sticky tape and putting a few drops of the methyl eugenol on the sticky tape. This might be easier in areas with very few flies.

Ken   Bags work great especially in combination with the methyl eugenol lures.

Pests and Diseases Image Library (PaDIL) has great photos of pests or diseases. It is a Commonwealth Government initiative, developed and built by Museum Victoria’s Online Publishing Team, with support provided by DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) and PHA (Plant Health Australia), a non-profit public company. Project partners also include Museum Victoria, the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and the Queensland University of Technology. Additional image providers include: Dr Laurence Mound (ANIC, CSIRO); Dr Roger Shivas (Queensland Department of Primary Industries); and Dr Mallik Malipatil (Agriculture Victoria, Department of Primary Industries).

Using Pesticides

Find out the latest news on labelling, such as recent changes by visiting the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) website on  If you don’t have the right equipment, only choose licensed spray contractors to carry out your spraying needs. The ´Search for a Sprayer´ section of the DPI&F website is a good resource to check this.

Errol  & Regina’s recipe:  I’ve had good success with Wild May in controlling fruit fly. We tried the standard soft drink bottle method where you put the WM in the bottom of one bottle and have access for the FF through 2 cut-off tops of soft drink bottles one on each side of the main bottle however because of the cost of the wild may, Errol decided to change over to a new system he saw in the Mackay RFC newsletter.  We got a plastic peanut butter bottle with a wide top then put a bit of wire through the lid and hung a bit of polystyrene soaked in WM. This didn’t seem to work so he modified the system and got a small vanilla bottle and hung that inside the plastic peanut butter bottle and put a piece of foam rubber in the neck of the vanilla bottle 50ml cut the top off the plastic vanilla bottle and put a couple of pieces of wire in the top and hook it through the lid of the peanut butter bottle and put the WM in that then put some water in the bottom of the container so the WM attracts the bugs but the WM doesn’t get full of insects so you don’t have to keep straining it. Half an inch of water in the bottom of the peanut butter.

Annette McFarlane reports: Yates has discontinued production of several chemicals based on the active ingredient, Malathion which also goes under the name of Maldison. Also to go will be products based on Carbaryl and Dimethoate eg Rogor.  Less toxic or naturally derived alternatives such as Confidor, Dipel, Success, Pyrethrum and PestOil are suggested as substitutes.

Fruit Piercing Moths:  When near ripe fruit develops soft spots that cause premature ripening, fruit fly is often to blame. Breaking open the fruit will reveal larvae which help to confirm the diagnosis. When no larvae are present, suspect attack from the fruit piercing moth. As moths are active at night, few gardeners ever encounter them. Fruit sucking moths are large with a wingspan of up to 6cm. The wings are usually dark brown with distinctive orange markings. The moths pierce the skin of pawpaw, tomatoes, citrus, persimmons, bananas and other fruit then suck out the liquid contents. A black spot remains at the point of entry with flesh around this either becoming soft and pulpy or dry and pithy, depending on the fruit attacked. Spraying is not an option. Either pick the fruit before it is ripe, cover with paper bags. An outdoor light that attracts insects is an option but remember that it will attract a lot of other insects including beneficial ones.

Fruit Fly Bait for Organic Growers

Organic growers may finally have an effective control against fruit fly. Naturalure Fruit Fly Control Bait is a BFA registered organic fruit fly control product for male and female Queensland fruit fly and Med Fly and has recently received APVMA registration. Naturalure is a specially formulated protein bait spray for attracting and killing both male and female fruit fly. The active chemical in the product is based on the same active found in the BFA registered organic caterpillar and thrip spray Entrust Naturalyte Insecticide called Spinosad – a naturally occurring toxin produced by a soil bacterium.

Naturalure is now used as the benchmark bait treatment for both male and female fruit fly around the world. The main advantage over other bait sprays is that it attracts females as well as males, so it is a complete fruit fly control bait. Because of the highly attractive nature of the bait, the application rates are half that of other bait sprays. The other advantage it has over conventional bait sprays is a low impact on beneficial insects. Applications are targeted at the foliage in the upper parts of the tree and contact should be avoided with fruit as there is a chance of burning. Mangoes are particularly sensitive to the bait spray. TM- Naturalure is a registered trademark of Dow Agrosciences and is available from BFA registered company Organic Crop Protectants.  Best to spot spray foliage – not fruit as some can blemish

Over the last few years I lost most of my guava crop to fruit fly so last year  I tried Wild May in combination with Eco natural lure and it works.  The first year I still lost a small amount to fly but I kept the traps out all year.  This really wipes out the males and the Eco natural lure takes care of whatever is left. I had a somewhat controlled experiment with my trees at work – they were totally infested but at home I had a good untouched crop.  I was usually getting four to five flies per trap at home per week but now that’s down to about two. At work I had, no word of a lie, in the first week, 50 flies per trap.  I place the traps about 10-20 metres apart not the 50 metres as advised after that the numbers started to drop to the point whereby now I only catch 4 per week.    Jason Rukowski – Sydney