NZ Kitchen Garden

Home grown goodness for the kitchen and pantry

Chicken Poo: a great place for fruit flies

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There are masses and masses of little fruit flies flitting atop my three small vege beds. They are going crazy over the smelly, mucky, well-rotted chicken poo that I have mixed in with the soil. Apparently, it’s a great place for them to lay their eggs.

Over-ripe and rotting fruit and vegetables, as well as capsicum, eggplants, tomatoes and most fruit trees,  will attract fruit flies into the garden. Once there, they will feast on what they find and lay their eggs. When they are ready, their offspring hatch and burrow into the fruit, munching their way to fullness and rendering your crop inedible.

Reader’s Digest suggests that “good garden hygiene” can prevent fruit fly problems by picking up fruit and vegetables as they fall on the ground before they rot and send off their sickly-sweet scent. Any crop that has already become infested should be picked, put in an airtight bag and left in the sun for five days. Alternatively, the offending items can be submerged in a bucket of boiling water and left submerged for a few days to kill any larvae that may be well-hidden. Putting the infested fruit or vegetable into your compost is a big no, no; as this will simply provide a lovely place for the fruit fly and its voracious young to continue their life cycle.

So what of my young spinach, kale and lettuce seedlings, which have countless fruit flies crawling all over their nourishing patch of dirt? There is no rotting fruit or vegetables to pluck, suffocate or drown; just plain ol’ chicken poo enticing them in. And I have spread the chicken poo everywhere, as one does.

Luckily, there are solutions for treating the problem, including some that do not involve spraying the food that you hope to eventually eat with harsh chemicals:

  • Repel – mix kerosene, creosote and mothballs together and hang in bottles from nearby trees or garden stakes, leaving open areas for the smell to waft out
  • Hinder – put a thick layer of mulch on top of the infested soil to make it difficult for the larvae to emerge
  • Trap – fill some bottles with either beer or a mix of sugar, Vegemite and water; put holes in the bottles, large enough for fruit flies to enter (and subsequently drink themselves drowned) and hang the bottles from nearby trees or garden stakes

I am going to try all of the above for my area, with soaked grass clippings as mulch. I’ll report back on my success -wish me luck!

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