Thursday, 22 February 2024
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Fruit Fly

Fruit flies are the world’s worst fruit pest. Fruit fly has the potential to threaten Australia’s horticultural industry.

Our region is particularly affected, with millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs at risk.

Outbreaks in townships impact on growers’ ability to market and sell their produce, and there has been a recent dramatic rise in township outbreaks.

Swan Hill Rural City Council is partnering with local commercial fruit growers and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to control fruit flies in our region.

We urge you to help reduce the threat that fruit fly poses to the region.

Report a suspected fruit fly infestation 

If you suspect a neighbour or other community member has fruit fly in their backyard trees, please consider talking to them prior to making a report. However, should this approach not be successful, or the conditions are not favourable for a direct approach, you can complete and submit a report for Council to follow-up.

The impact on your garden

Fruit fly larvae (maggots) cause your fruit and vegetables to turn into a soft, mushy mess. Adult female fruit flies lay eggs in the flesh of ripening and ripe fruits and vegetables. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feeds on the fruit, causing it to rot and drop to the ground. This damage will make your fruit inedible.

Just one fruit fly can cause an outbreak

Female fruit flies can lay 500 to 800 eggs in their six month life. Fruit flies emerge, feed and mate in two to four days in summer and they hatch in just six to eight days.

This can translate in 700,000 flies in one season originating from just one fly.

Help keep the Swan Hill region fruit fly free

Fruit flies destroy fruit and vegetables grown commercially and in home gardens. Commercial growers have put strategies in place to control fruit fly in their crops, but they cannot control outbreaks in home gardens. 


Regularly inspect your home grown fruit and vegetable for larvae. Fruit and vegetables will need to be cut open to detect larvae. Common fruit fly host plants are:

  • peach
  • apricot
  • plum
  • nectarine
  • orange
  • lemon
  • grapefruit
  • avocado
  • apple
  • pear
  • loquat
  • quince
  • tomato
  • chilli
  • capsicum
  • grapes


Remember than fruit fly activity is not strictly seasonal, and if you have host fruit trees on your property you should:

  • Prune them regularly, keeping the tops of the trees to a manageable height so that you can pick all the fruit and more easily manage your trees for netting, spraying and baiting.
  • Remove fruit as it ripens and certainly before it falls to the ground.
  • Collect fallen fruit immediately, place any unwanted fruit into a sealed plastic bag, and leave it in the sun for five to seven days to kill any fruit fly maggots that might be present. The bagged fruit should then be put into your rubbish bin. Or you can microwave the fruit in small quantities.
  • Do not place unwanted or infested fruit into your compost bin.
  • Treat unwanted fruit and vegetables from other fruit fly host plants in the same way.
  • Consider baiting, cover spraying and trapping methods, available from most garden and hardware shops and local chemical suppliers.
  • Consider methods to isolate your fruit from fruit flies, like fine netting, sleeves or bags.
  • If you don’t have the means to take care of your trees, consider removing them.
  • Encourage your neighbours to manage their host plants too, and help each other if you’re away for long periods of time.

Flyers and more information are also available the Council office in Swan Hill, at the Swan Hill Region Information Centre and the Swan Hill Regional Library. You can also contact Council’s Economic Development Unit – in certain cases, help might be available to collect fruit or remove fruit trees.

For more information please contact
Economic Development Unit
Phone: (03) 5036 2333

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