How to identify and control the worst pest in melon farming

The melon fruit fly has been reported to damage over 81 host plants and is a major pest in cucurbitaceous (melons, courgettes, butternuts, and cucumbers). The extent of damage varies between 30-100% depending on the cucurbit species and season.

Its abundance increases when temperatures are below 32oC and the relative humidity ranges between 60 to 70%. This explains why the damage is high during rainy seasons and cold months or areas that experience low temperatures.

How to identify melon fruit fly

Adult melon are similar in size to a housefly, about 6mm to 8mm long.

The body is light brown to a honey color in appearance. There are several prominent blight yellow markings on the upper body and a distinctive black ‘T’ pattern at the base of lower body.

Melon fly damage

The wings are clear with a dark coastal vein and “melon seed” shaped spot at the tip. Females have a slender pointed ovipositors which they use to lay eggs under the skin of host fruit. Larva (maggots) are white and legless, growing to a length of 10mm inside the host fruit.

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Damage of fruits flies on courgettes

Melon fruit fly prefers to infest young, green, soft skinned fruits. It inserts the eggs 2 to 4mm deep in the fruit tissues and the maggots feed inside the fruits. Pupation occurs in the soil at 0.5 to 15cm below soil surface.

Early scouting, maintaining high level of farm sanitation free of weeds, use of fruit flies traps, fruit bagging combined with chemical spraying of Malathion 57% EC helps in controlling fruit flies.

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