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The importance of crop hygiene and host management

Publication date: 1 October 2021

With Biosecurity Month upon us and fruit fly season ramping up, it is more important than ever to manage the host sources where Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) may be hiding.

Although fruit flies have an affinity from more tropical locations, Qfly love to spend the winter in sheltered warmer areas – urban locations around our homes and suburbs offer perfect conditions for Qfly to take refuge from the cold. 

Another reason our backyards and gardens make such a great location for Qfly is the variety of different fruits and vegetables we grow. Qfly hosts include some of our most popular home-grown fruits and vegetables such as citrus, tomatoes, capsicum, chillies, blueberries, strawberries, apples, stonefruit, and grapes.

The wide variety of host plants help sustain Qfly populations throughout the year, and at key times, such as the start of spring, key hosts can enable Qfly to rapidly build up in numbers.

What can you do to help in your backyard?

There is a range of things you can do to help manage fruit fly in your backyard:

  • Keep your backyard free of host material and practice good hygiene – if you have fruit trees make sure to remove fallen fruit and do not leave ripe fruit on the tree
  • Destroy removed fruit – the best way to do this is by using heat, a common method used is to put the fruit in a sealed plastic bag and leave it in the sun
  • Remove host trees if you are no longer using them and consider replacing them with a non-host tree – many councils offer a service to do this if you can’t do this yourself
  • Use insect netting along with Qfly baits and traps if you are actively using your fruit trees and vegetable patches – be sure to check your traps and inspect your fruit for the tell-tale sting signs which are where the Qfly has laid its eggs.

Qfly is a serious pest and controlling it takes a collective effort. If everyone does their part, we can enjoy not only the benefits of our own labour in the garden but also benefit from the hard work of our Aussie farmers.

To access a range of resources on how to manage Qfly head to the Department of Agriculture website as well as your State Departments of Agriculture and local council. More information on SITplus technology to control fruit flies is also available via the Hort Innovation website.