Learn to quash fruit flies at today's garden class
By Jayme Grzebik
The melon fly arrived in Hawai'i in 1895. Today four species of exotic fruit flies cost Hawai'i more than $300 million each year in losses of locally grown produce. That doesn't include losses in potentially high-value export markets.
Eradication efforts have proven to be ineffective in Hawai'i. Constant temperatures allow fruit flies to reproduce year round.
Rather than trying to eliminate every last fly, control techniques have been packaged with the goal of keeping pest damage below an economically significant threshold. These techniques are taught to home gardeners at the Urban Garden Center in Pearl City, where you can learn about the Hawaii Area-Wide Fruit Fly Integrated Pest Management program, the HAW-FLY program.
There are three techniques included in the HAW-FLY program. Using just one of the control methods will not suppress fruit flies in the home garden. It is essential that home gardeners learn the three techniques from University of Hawai'i Cooperative Extension Service agents.
One very important suppression technique is field sanitation. In the home garden, it is important to understand that fruit flies are reproducing by laying eggs in fruits or vegetables. As soon as fruit fly damage is identified, the fruit or vegetable must be drowned in water, buried deep in a compost pile or taken out with the rubbish. This will prevent burrowing into the soil, so no egg can form into a pupa and emerge as an adult fruit fly. That stops the fruit fly lifecycle. Simply routinely monitoring your fruits and vegetables for damage and destroying the damaged fruit can suppress fruit fly populations in your home garden.
Another technique discussed in detail in the class offered by University of Hawai'i extension agents is to wrap the fruit or vegetable to keep it from being damaged. Wrapping materials can be large amounts of cotton, or simply newspaper. Wrap the tiny fruit or vegetable as soon as it appears. Waiting until the fruit or vegetable is mature will be too late. The melon fly commonly stings vegetables when they're very small. The Mediterranean fruit fly stings fruits when the fruits begin to turn color, or ripen.
Fruit fly traps using male lures and protein baits are also discussed in class as techniques of controlling fruit fly damage.
Attend a class at the Urban Garden Center in Pearl City today during Second Saturday at the Garden, this month featuring melon fly demonstrations from 9 a.m. to noon, and a class at 9 a.m. and a repeat session at 10:30 a.m. Registration and a $5 donation are accepted at the classroom door. For more information on Second Saturday at the Garden or for directions, visit www.ctahr.hawaii.edu /ougc/ or call 453-6055 or 453-6050.