[permaculture] cherry fruit fly, gentle methods of eradicating?

Paul d'Aoust paul at heliosville.com
Wed Jul 4 20:51:13 EDT 2007

Hi there. I have a lovely, robust cherry tree that produces lovely,
robust cherries. (I think they're Rainiers.) The problem is, if I don't
pick them time, the cherry fruit fly larvae make a mess of them. I'm
probably going to cut them all in half and extract the worms before I
freeze them.

Now, I've been reading about the cherry fruit fly, and there some
interesting aspects of their lifecycle that I thought I might be able to
capitalise on in a permaculture sort of way. First of all, the adults
feed on aphid honeydew (among other things), which suggests to me that
if I discouraged the legions of aphids and the ants in my tree, that
would possibly reduce the food supply for the flies. Also, they pupate
in the soil, which suggests that I should remove all rotting windfalls.
(I would love to invite some chickens and quail into my garden to eat
the cherries, but I don't have that luxury in a townhouse complex.)

Thirdly, I've heard of a modern commercial spray that uses spinosad, a
metabolite from the bacterium Saccharopolyspora spinosa. They've had
fantastic success in Washington -- about 95% success rate in orchards in
which there was a 1:1 cherry/worm ratio. Unfortunately spinosad is
highly toxic to bees. Poop.

I'm wondering if any of you folks have suggestions, comments, cautions
regarding my problem? I'm encouraged by people's success with spinosad,
but at the same time I don't want to kill any pollinators or upset the
balance of pests/predators. (Speaking of predators, my tree is crawling
with ladybug larvae, which is encouraging.) How about fly-discouraging
plants underneath the tree?

I live in a region in BC which is similar in climate to the dry orchard
regions of Washington and Oregon.

Thanks in advance,
Paul d'Aoust

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