Have you ever cut into a nice piece of juicy ripe fruit only to find a bunch of wiggly, white worms staring back at you? Most often, these are the larvae of fruit flies. Because of them, many growers and homeowners alike find it very difficult to grow certain crops. The four fruit flies we have on the Big Island have a choice of over 400 plants to infest.
Oriental fruit fly –Introduced in 1945, it ranges from sea level to 4,000 ft and likes citrus, guava, mango and papaya and others.
Mediterranean fruit fly –Introduced in 1907, is common at 1,000-4,000 ft and likes citrus, coffee, papaya, guava and others. This fruit fly is common in coffee groves.
Melon fruit fly – Introduced in 1895, is found from sea level to 15,000 ft and likes melons, squash and cucumbers, as well as eggplant, pepper and tomatoes.
Malaysian or Solanaceous fruit fly – The newest addition to our group of fruit flies came here about 10 years ago. It ranges from sea level to 1,500 ft. and prefers solanaceous plants – tomatoes, peppers, eggplant.
Although we won’t be able to eliminate these pests, there are a few things we can do to suppress their population.
· Sanitation – pick up all dropped fruit and discard.
· Attractants - there are special attractants available that will lure the males to a baited trap. This not only tells you what species of fruit fly you have, but also removes the males from the breeding cycle. If it is a new infestation, these traps can possibly catch enough males to reduce the population.
· Baits - the use of protein bait sprays with a toxicant such as GF 120.
Since infested fruit can harbor 100’s of fruit fly larvae, do not place them in your compost pile. Or, if you do, put them first in a sealed plastic bag for 45 days, then you can put them into your compost pile. You can also bury the fruit – at least 18 inches. Feeding the fruit to animals is OK too.
Fruit fly brochures are available at local CTAHR Extension offices.