Fruit flies, Fruits Gone

We’ve never encountered fruit flies this bad.

If you’re in a desert and you happen to have a flowering mango tree in your garden, that simple thing is a joy. But, don’t get your hopes too high.

Flies come with the good spring weather, too.

Fruit flies infestation began after the sandstorm in mid-May. By that time, we were able to harvest green un-infested mangoes from a fallen branch. Here is our Instagram post about that sandstorm and the early harvesting.

The green mangoes were one of a kind sour. Coming from a tropical country who tasted different kinds of mangoes, it’s a surprise I’ve never experienced that caliber of sour before. So we decided to wait until the ones left on the tree ripen. But then, this happened….

Husband tried to save the mangoes by smoking the tree. Flies left; but, it turned out eggs were already laid on the fruits.

Is smoking the tree helpful?

As I understood it, the eggs laid on the fruits turn into worm-like creatures (larva) and rot the fruit. The mago then falls down and the larva morphs into pupa and spends the whole stage in the soil. When this pupa becomes an adult fruit fly, it emerges again to find the nourishment it needs to reach sexual maturity, then it mates, then lays eggs. And the infestation cycle continues. So smoking a tree once or twice won’t do much. I don’t think smoking alone in a consistent daily basis will solve it, too. Especially with the kind of fruit fly that we had.

The relentless type of fruit fly

There seems to be  a lot of species of flies, let alone fruit flies. But I found out that the most harmful to mangoes are Ceratitis cosyra and Bactrocera invadens. I have compared our pictures on the web and it looks like the latter. It’s not nice meeting you, Bactrocera invadens. Those who have knowledge, please confirm or correct my claim.

So, how do we control mango fruit flies?

Controlling their population is key. It’s easy to spot an infested fruit even when it has not fallen yet. It has holes and it starts to decay while attached to the branch. Destroying the infested fruits will destroy the larva. Coupled with smoking, this can be effective. Toss the infested fruits to the smoker, perhaps?

Advanced methods like mass capture of male fruit flies via attractants or spot treatments can be done but we have no access to that. Some suggest spraying with chemicals, but honestly, we have not looked into that option yet, so we have no idea. But if you will be spraying, ofcourse it’s wise to review the chemicals, and how to handle such.

Right now, we’re just waiting for the extreme UAE temperature come summer and these flies are sure to leave, too. And hope that the tree will be spared the next season. Or if not, that we can have a better control measure next time. There’s possibly no ripe mangoes to be expected from the tree this season. But the tree, along with the coffee table it gives shade to, is still my favorite in the garden.

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