What is fruit fly hygiene?

Fruit fly hygiene is a series of strategies ensuring there are no fruit fly eggs, larvae, pupae or adults left anywhere on the landscape after garden crops have been harvested. Home gardeners are reminded good fruit fly hygiene is critical in stopping the spread of fruit fly.

What are hygiene strategies?

It is essential to pick, or pick up, all fruit that is not wanted and secure this fruit before larvae can leave the fruit and pupate in the ground. Treating this fruit to ensure the complete destruction of eggs and larvae is essential.

Home gardeners should:

  • Solarise fruit by loading fruit into plastic bags and placing bags in the sun for about a week;
  • Freeze fruit until fruit is solid (about 2 days);
  • Microwave fruit for about 3–5 minutes (depending on how much fruit is in the batch to be treated);
  • Hot water treatment — submerge fruit in water kept at above 50˚C for more than 1 hour;
  • Incinerate fruit;
  • Fruit fermentation — some fruit may be able to ferment naturally or after the addition of wine yeast. The alcohol that is produced will kill fruit fly. There may be Government or Council restrictions on producing alcohol;
  • Submerge fruit in water for at least two weeks (put a thin layer of oil such as citronella on top to further reduce fruit fly survival and prevent mosquitoes);
  • Maceration of fruit (e.g. garden mulcher);
  • Running fruit eating animals in the orchard to clean up fallen fruit — chickens, ducks, geese and guinea fowl are effective at eating fallen fruit and scratching out fruit fly larvae and pupae from the soil;
  • Pruning fruit trees to a manageable size is a useful strategy. By pruning to a size where all fruit is easily accessible, the potential for some fruit to remain on the tree after the main harvest is lessened;
  • If fruit are of the type that ripens off the tree or vine or can be consumed in a less mature state then early harvest is recommended;
  • Fruit stripping and plant removal — if you have fruit or fruiting plants that you do not want — strip all fruit and remove the whole plant and replace with a non-fruiting plant.