Fruit fly management

A whole ‘system’ approach is required for fruit fly management. By this we mean:

  • Protein bait sprays
  • Monitoring
  • Male annihilation
  • Sanitation

The Manage Queensland Fruit fly brochure from Hort Innovation is a great resource that outlines three key steps:

A – Attract and kill with protein bait sprays

B – Reduce males with male annihilation technique (MAT)

C – Sanitation (and monitoring)

Other tools such as physical control, crop management, cover sprays, biological control, SIT and post harvest can also play a role – some in area wide approaches or at a government implementation level. Cover sprays are being phased out.

Photo courtesy Dan Papacek (Bugs for Bugs)







Protein bait sprays

  • This is the essence of fruit fly management
  • Adult flies emerge from the soil after pupation
  • Females need to mate and feed on protein before they can lay eggs
  • We have a 5-7 day window before they can damage fruit
  • Protein can be acquired from fungi or bacteria – or from our applied bait sprays
  • Differ from cover sprays
  • ‘Spot’ treatment only
  • Protein + toxicant in bait attracts and kills flies

Tips for Best Results:

  • Start early, before fruit is susceptible
  • Apply regularly
  • Don’t miss a treatment
  • Place on foliage or trunk
  • Never on ground or grass
  • Re-treat after rain
  • Increase frequency during high risk periods
  • Apply fresh
  • Not all proteins are equal, look at:
    • protein content (%)
    • preservatives
  • Use thickeners and consider:
    • resistance to weathering
    • hygroscopic – remains moist for longer
    • enhanced attractiveness
    • use when extra control is required

Photo courtesy Dan Papacek (Bugs for Bugs)









Trapping of fruit flies

  • Male specific traps
  • Indicator of population trends only
  • Effective female trap still eludes us

Male fly traps

  • Many available
  • Male sex attractant + toxicant

Monitoring should also include:

  • regular field assessment
  • possibly twice weekly in critical periods

Look for:

  • adult flies visible
  • evidence of ‘stinging’

Photo courtesy Dan Papacek (Bugs for Bugs)








Male Annihilation Technique (MAT)

  • Suppression of the male fly population
  • An invaluable tool in an area wide management (AWM) program
  • Incremental gains over time


  • Remove any fallen fruit via:
    • Mulching
    • Black plastic bag
    • Deep burying
  • Remove all fruit after harvest
  • Late hanging fruit are high risk
  • Issue of fallen fruit…
    • If stung review procedures
    • If not stung then little risk

Further information links

Australian Apple and Pear IPDM Fruit Fly Factsheet, including detailed information on bait spraying;

NSW DPI Queensland Fruit Fly Factsheet

Bugs for Bugs:

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