An effective fruit fly management tool without the use of insecticides: CeraTrap®

Fruit flies are a threat to global fruit production, causing fruit and economic damage through puncturing fruit skin during oviposition. After hatching, the fruit fly larvae starts feeding on the flesh of the fruit, which often results in premature fruit drop (Allwood & Leblanc, 1996).

Fruit flies are classified as phytosanitary pests, and there are quarantine restrictions imposed by several importing countries, limiting access to potential export markets (Manrakhan & Addison, 2008). The phytosanitary requirements of some countries are sometimes so strict that exports can be suspended if the authorities find a single fruit fly in a container of fruit (Erasmus, 2012). Allwood and Leblanc (1996) emphasised the significance of fruit flies in the industry by indicating that the control of fruit flies together with improved cultural practices can improve food production, alleviate poverty, and improve food security.

Current control options

Fruit flies in South Africa are mainly controlled with the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and Bait Application Technique (BAT). SIT involves the mass-rearing of fruit flies and sterilising the males by exposure to low levels of radiation. The sterile males are then released into infested orchards, mate with wild females, and eggs laid after mating are then infertile. However, SIT needs to be a standard area-wide practise and integrated with alternative measures to be successful. BAT is an attract-and-kill control measure involving the use of an attractant to lure the fruit flies to bait infused with insecticide. Fruit flies coming into contact with the bait are thus poisoned and killed (Erasmus, 2012).

CeraTrap® is a new ecological alternative available in South Africa, currently registered on stone fruit, pome fruit, citrus and table grapes and targets four fruit fly species: Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata), Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis), Marula fruit fly (Ceratitis cosyra) and Natal fruit fly (Ceratitis rosa). CeraTrap® consists of a liquid protein developed through enzymatic hydrolysis and is highly selective in attracting and trapping fruit flies, which then drown in the liquid. The mode of action is based on the mass trapping technique and by keeping CeraTrap® in the orchard after harvesting, it reduces overwintering fruit fly populations allowing for population suppression in consecutive seasons. CeraTrap® predominantly catches female fruit flies which is an important aspect in population management.

CeraTrap® makes the effective control of fruit flies possible with zero residue left on the fruit, which allows for compliance with regulations on export crops. CeraTrap® is highly selective to fruit flies and is ideal to implement as part of an integrated fruit fly management approach with the focus on season long population management and damage control in the fruit ripening period. n

Krishna Naicker, Meridian Agritech

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