If you live in the cooler southern states of Australia the fruit fly – until recently – was nothing more than a myth, a spooky story that farmers read to their kids at night. But to those living in subtropical and tropical parts of our country, as well as Western Australia (WA), the fruit fly has been a nightmare reality for quite some time. Their migration south has been quick and steady, as climate change creates a more suitable habitat.

There are three common types of fruit fly that affect our crops. The Mediterranean species is confined to WA, and then there are the Queensland and cucumber varieties.

The cycle of a fruit fly becomes vicious if not broken. The female lays its eggs within the skin of the fruit and then the larvae, which resemble white maggots, eat the fruit from the inside out. This causes the fruit to rot and then fall off the tree. Once those larvae are fully cooked, they migrate and burrow into the soil to pupate – becoming the next generation of infecting pest.

Once the fruit fly infests, it can wreak huge damage on fruit crops, and commercially costs farmers millions in lost revenue. To control an outbreak in the home garden, it involves a concerted effort from not only yourself, but your neighbours, too.

Optimal Conditions

Whenever it is warm. Climate change has meant increasing temperatures further south, enabling the migration of this serial pest


Rotting fruit on the ground, eaten from the inside out


Don’t let fruit over-ripen and consider planting dwarf or espaliered trees so harvesting is easier. Once fruit begins to set, use exclusion nets or bags. However, these can be costly and time-consuming to set up.


As soon as you notice an outbreak, dispose of the affected fruit. Use pheromone traps that will attract and kill both females and males, and ensure you get your neighbours on board with a larger scale effort.


Tough to eradicate, so unless using exclusion nets it is best to stay diligent and adopt the use of lures or traps to keep numbers in check.

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