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Better methods to control Queensland Fruit Flies

Participants at a QFly workshopRecently North Coast blueberry producers had the opportunity to learn better ways to control Queensland Fruit Flies (Q-fly) in blueberry crops.

North Coast Local Land Services delivered the two workshops, in partnership with NSW Department of Primary Industries, which were attended by more than 50 growers and industry representatives.  The participants received the latest information on integrated pest management from NSW DPI fruit fly researcher, Olivia Reynolds and integrated pest management specialist from Bugs for Bugs Ltd, Dan Papacek.

Q-fly is a native rainforest insect that naturally occurs in the North Coast region. It attacks a wide range of fruiting crops.

One of the most effective insecticide cover sprays, Dimethoate, is currently only available for use on commercial blueberry crops under a permit and that permit is due to expire in October 2017.  To have effective Q-fly control, growers need to start integrated pest management before the commonly used cover spray is no longer permitted.

“Giving growers the information and strategies now will give them time to practice the methods and develop confidence in the plan before it is too late,” said Julie Dart, Senior Land Service Officer with North Coast Local Land Services.

“Reducing the use of insecticide cover-sprays benefits growers and the community by reducing the level of secondary pests in crops and also lessens negative impacts on beneficial insects such as bees and native pollinators,” Julie said.

QFlyThe most important control tool for Q-fly is protein baiting.  This method involves spraying small blobs of a yeast bait protein attractant with a small amount of insecticide on the lower foliage of bushes at regular intervals. Protein baiting attracts and kills newly emerged adult flies in the first five to seven days after emergence before they can sting fruit and lay eggs.  Q-fly must feed on protein to prepare for breeding and growers should aim to have fresh bait available in the orchard over the whole cropping season. Protein baiting is not a new method, as it has been practiced for more than 20 years on many susceptible tree crops.

The bait is not directly sprayed on fruit which greatly reduces the amount of chemical used. Protein baiting provides very effective suppression of Q-fly in an orchard if it is done correctly. There is a protein bait product that can be used on certified organic crops, and this is the most effective control in organic systems. Protein baits are generally not attractive to bees.

Other tools available for additional control include MAT (Male Annihilation Technique) which uses a sex attractant to lure and kill male flies.  This is the same technology used in fruit fly traps that contain Cue-lure.  MAT lures are easily hung within the orchard every 3 months in spring, summer and autumn.  While they help kill flies that have not taken protein bait they are not an effective control on their own.

Sanitation is another important tool including the removal of ripe fruit promptly from the orchard to reduce the chance of egg laying and, if possible, fallen fruits should also be destroyed.  Other fruit from nearby backyard and feral fruit trees must also be removed from trees once it has ripened.

“Controlling Q-fly is a community responsibility.  If you have fruit trees on your property, you must actively manage them to control pests and diseases and remove any unwanted fruit trees.” Julie said.

Further information on Q-fly control methods is available from North Coast Local Land Services, NSW DPI and consultant agronomists for Driscoll’s and OzGroup Cooperative.

Contact Julie Dart, North Coast Local Land Services on 6659 9406, or Phillip Wilk, NSW Department of Primary Industries on 0411 139 567 (Wed-Fri) for more information.

Media contact:

Julie Dart, Senior Land Services Officer, North Coast Local Land Services
Phone: 6659 9406

Photo captions:

1. Q-Fly – one of Australia’s most damaging crop pests Image Credit: James Niland
2. Participants at one of the recent blueberry grower workshops