Area Wide Baiting for Queensland Fruit Fly - Eltham pilot

During the Summer and Autumn of 2019/20 Nillumbik experienced a severe increase in Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) burden throughout Greensborough, Diamond Creek, Eltham and Research. Spot outbreaks were also identified in Strathewen.

As the fly population increases in urban Melbourne, it is expected that outbreaks in commercial orchards throughout Nillumbik and the Yarra Ranges will increase in number and severity, and that outbreaks in the crops of Nillumbik home growers will also increase in number and severity.

A pilot Eltham area wide baiting (AWB) program has been recommended by Agriculture Victoria to reduce the exponential growth of QFF during Summer 2020/21. Reducing fly numbers will allow home and commercial growers more time to modify growing practices in order to contain this pest. Bait will be applied to roadside vegetation only.

The program has been designed with public safety and minimal disturbance to other insects in mind. All products used are selective; they attract QFF but not beneficial insects.

Via the Working for Victoria employment program, the Port Phillip and Western Port Catchment Management Authority (CMA) will deliver the on-ground works. A team of up to 5 people will apply baits and check and record trap results, one day per week for a period of approximately five months.

Overview of the proposed works

Overview of the proposed works

While area wide baiting (AWB) is considered best practice in orchard systems, the timing and application rates required for optimal fly reduction in urban areas in our region is not fully known.

This project will pilot an urban methodology that has been developed by Council’s Land Management Officer in conjunction with Agriculture Victoria’s Yarra Valley Queensland Fruit Fly Coordinator and a representative from Organic Crop Protectants:

  • Male Queensland Fruit Fly targeted bait will be applied to street trees in affected areas every 8 – 10 weeks at 300gm per hectare (total coverage of around 30 hectares). It will be applied as a small splotch on the east or south side of the trunk of each tree at a height of around 1.5- 2 metres above ground level.
  • Female bait will be applied to street trees in affected areas weekly for five months (except in instances of rain) at 1 litre per hectare (total coverage of around 30 hectares). It will be delivered in 20-50 ml course droplet spray doses to the tree foliage at a height of 1.5 – 2 metres above ground level.
  • A trap network (40 traps) will be used to monitor the QFF population during the baiting program to determine efficacy of the AWB program. They will be hung at a height of around 2 metres, within the canopy of the tree. Pheromone lures will be replaced once, after the initial three months. They are checked weekly.

These works are described in more detail below.


A Trap Network

40 male targeted traps located in street trees and on council managed public land. They will be monitored weekly and numbers trapped recorded.

We will be using Biotrap traps, with male lures and a ‘sticky insert’. No insecticide is required as the fly is killed by becoming stuck to the sticky surface.

Male Fruit Fly baiting:

Male annihilation technique (MAT) involves selectively targeting male fruit flies to limit capacity for breeding. Male baiting is longer lasting that female targeted baiting and attracts male flies from further away (200m).

About the product / Methodology

Male bait will be applied as a 3g splotch of sticky putty per street tree, shaded by foliage, every 8-10 weeks. The bait is a greasy substance (Splat CL) mixed with APVMA registered insecticide (Maldison). The putty is placed high up on the tree trunk, away from children or pets. The made up Splat CL should be applied at a rate of 300g/Ha in areas of known QFF activity. We expect to apply male fruit fly bait twice during the pilot program. 


Image: Prepared SPLAT CL plus maldison, ready for application with a popsicle stick (or similar).

Female Fruit Fly baiting:

Fruit fly baiting involves delivering an insecticide to infested areas within a protein rich sticky bait. The product is non-sex selective however its application kills mainly females as QFF has an enormous appetite for protein to support egg laying. Baiting reduces the number of fruit flies and thereby disrupts exponential growth of the QFF population as the season progresses. It is the most commonly used strategy for QFF control in commercial orchards.

Efficacy is enhanced by ensuring bait is available prior to the ripening of early summer fruits (eg. early apricot and cherry cultivars). Ideally, a QFF’s first ‘feed’ after her winter hibernation is bait, not ripening fruit. For this reason, bait application is recommended 8 weeks prior to fruit ripening in orchard situations.

Few other insects are attracted to protein bait, minimising off target damage to beneficial species. Frequency of application depends on the weather, water resistance of the bait and half-life of the insecticide chosen.

About the product / Methodology

Eco naturalure is a certified organic product and is a concentrate which requires dilution with water. It contains both the insecticide (spinosad) and the appropriate fruit fly attractant, mainly sugars and yeast based protein.

It should be applied weekly to the foliage of street trees as a coarse droplet, sticky spray. 20-50ml only should be applied to each tree, at a rate of 1L/Ha. Eco naturalure will be applied to street trees in affected areas weekly for five months (except in instances of rain).

Eco Naturalure is considered non-hazardous however, it may be an irritant if inhaled or as a result of skin contact.


Links to products used:

Traps: biotrap

Female bait: econaturalure

Male bait: SPLAT-CL

Insecticide for male bait (maldison):

Maldison MSDS



Bait and trap grid location, Eltham

QFF pilot map.jpg


For information and videos to learn how you can help prevent QFF from spreading and reduce the risk in your garden, visit the Pest Animal page