Friday, June 22, 2012

Mangoes and Fruit Flies

Warning: there are some gross pictures of fruit flies below. 

When getting mangoes from a friend or in the wild, sometimes the mangoes have been infested by fruit fly larvae.  They look like little white worms or maggots. The mangoes look terrible as well. 

Fruit fly infested mango

EWWW... I've talked about fruit flies before, occasionally. They are not quite as big as house flies, but look very similar, and they lay their eggs in fruits and vegetables - everything from tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, even jalapenos, oranges, mangoes, guavas.  They don't seem to bother lilikoi (passionfruit) or lychee, which have a hard outer rind, and I've never seen them in bananas or avocados. But anything with a soft skin that's penetrable is very popular with the fruit fly, which usually hides during the day under a leafy canopy of cassava or other shady plants, and comes out to lay eggs in the early morning (and possibly at dusk).  It's a real nuisance for Hawaii gardeners and farmers, who combat this pest with special traps and sprays. 

If you only have one or two tomato plants, you might not have a problem. But if you have more than a few plants, they will find you. Same thing applies to other fruit trees and veggies. If you only have a few fruits or veggies, the flies might not notice, but once they know you are growing some nice things, they'll be back next year and the year after. Fruit fly eggs and larvae will also survive if the fruits/veggies are buried in a compost pile, even up to a foot deep. Tip: You can drown them or freeze them, if you're only dealing with a few infestations and don't want them to spread in your garden. 

It's Hawaii, so bugs love being here too... 

I ended up freezing this mango, so that it would kill
all the fruit fly maggots and eggs. 


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