Know your enemy

My tomatoes were looking terrific and i had just started picking enough to be worthwhile when I noticed that they too had been stung by fruit fly. I cleaned them up a lot, made sure nothing was on the ground, refilled my traps and started to pick the larger varieties as soon as they started to colour.
I thought I was winning. Until yesterday when I discovered about a dozen maggots very happily jumping around in the container with the tomatoes that were almost ripe enough to eat.

I thought I would pop them in a plastic bag and cook them in the sun to get rid of the pests. You wouldn't believe it but some of them are still alive after twenty four hours of this treatment.

I have really learnt a lot about the fruit fly in this little interlude. How many there can be in one piece of fruit, how far the maggots can hop and jump and how hard they are too kill. I'll be treating them with a new respect and a new vigour.
I plan to win this war! So the more I know about them the better. I was also a bit daunted to read that home made baits are next to useless and catch more beneficial insects than anything else! I guess I'll try some of the commercial traps that are safe to use in organic gardens, but next year i plan to net the early trees and hopefully stop the problem before it starts.
On a happier note the cherry Roma's and tigerillas seem largely unaffected and I will make loads of green tomato chutney which we love and is always a popular gift.


Christie said…
Very smart to know your enemy ;) Do you have a particular recipe that you use for your chutney? I'll be looking for the same recipe very soon too.
Linda Woodrow said…
I'm in northern NSW, so probably just a bit more in the fruit fly zone than you. I have tried bagging and netting and baiting, with some success, but it takes so much diligence. The strategy that works for me: don't poison the fruit flies with anything, organic or not. It will only poison their predators as well, and the key original problem is too few of them. I grit my teeth and suffer the losses and work on creating good habitat for birds and bats and frogs and spiders and predatory insects. The result is that I get about half my large tomatoes (and Brandywine is the variety I find worth it). The cherry and Roma types are much more resistant, and I get most of them. I get about two thirds of my capsicums and chilis, but that's plenty. I give up on stone fruit, except for some seedling peaches and plums, that are mostly stung but good for cooking or cutting up for fruit salads etc. You might be just far enough out of their preferred range to be worth battling them, but in my climate, life is too short to spend chasing fruit flies!

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