Being olive oil one of the main products that the Spanish industry produces, it is not surprising the impact that the olive fly (Bactrocera oleae) has on its farmers. Every year large amounts of effort and money are invested in the fight against this pest, which is the main pest in olive cultivation and mainly affects the olives, spoiling them, but it can even end up affecting the entire olive tree in severe cases.
If you want to learn more about the olive fly and its treatmentjoin us in this EcologíaVerde article in which you will find a guide on this pest.
What is the olive fly and its cycle
scientific name Bactrocera oleaeAt first glance, the olive fly is not too different from the ones that are common to see in most urban environments. It is a pest that can be found throughout the Mediterranean area, as well as in much of Africa, the Canary Islands, India, Western Asia and California. the olive fly life cycle is the following:
- Their life cycle begins with the laying of eggs by the females, which they carry out by piercing the skin of the olive with their oviscapt, a specialized organ. With the lay eggs under the skin of the olive, when the olive has a diameter of around 8 mm. This bite leaves a visible mark on the olive, dark green at first and brown later, when it heals.
- The egg hatches between 2 and 10 days after laying, depending on the weather and the season.
- The larva grows by digging galleries in the fruit, developing and carrying out two changes. When it is close to the third and last molt, the larva prepares its exit from the fruit.
- In the warm months, the larva transforms into a pupa inside the olive, next to its skin, until it takes its adult form and leaves the fruit.
- In the cold months, on the other hand, the larva pierces the fruit to fall to the ground, where it forms the pupa, in which it remains until the arrival of the following spring or warm season.
The duration of its biological cycle depends a lot on the climate and the season, and can range from a minimum of 20 days when the temperature is optimal, to up to 5 months if the pupa spends the winter in the ground, hibernating. Its ideal temperature is around 20 ºC. Above 30ºC the olive fruit fly becomes less fertile, and above 32ºC many of its eggs die. Similarly, below 0 ºC this insect cannot survive either. Thus, in coastal crops the fly develops for much of the year, while in inland crops its months of activity are more focused on spring and autumn.
When to treat the olive fruit fly – time of treatment
Given that, as we have just seen, this plague evolves very differently depending on the climate and local conditions, a universal time for its treatment cannot be established. Instead, to find out when to treat olive fly it will be necessary:
- Analyze how widespread the plague is.
- Where are you in your cycle?
- What is the best treatment to apply?
How to fight the olive fly – treatment
There are various treatments to eliminate the olive fly.
- When it is not very widespread, it is usual to use olive fly insecticide partially, using the patching and attractant technique, so as not to saturate the crop with chemicals.
- For a total treatment, if the affectation is very serious, the phytosanitary products for the olive fly only when the affectation of the harvest is more than 1% in the greening season, or 3% in the oil mill.
- It is also possible to use a ecological treatment for the olive fly, especially if we are looking for an organic olive grove. In this case, the most popular and used measure is the olive fly traps. Of these, the most common is the so-called olip trap. These can be made at home, recycling old plastic bottles, and although their economic cost is very low, their effectiveness is more than proven. It is manufactured using a PET bottle, to which a few holes of about 5 mm in diameter are made in its upper quarter. The lower half of the bottle is then filled, somewhat below the holes, with attractant, diammonium phosphate dissolved at 3 or 5% being one of the most used. The trap is hung in the southern branches of olive trees, shielded from direct sun, and the flies will enter through the holes to drown in the water. The trap owes its name to the Cooperativa Olivarera los Pedroches, where it was devised.
- Finally, biological control can also be used with the introduction of predatory species of this insect, especially in its soil phase during the winter, as well as the use of entomopathogenic fungi in the soil of the crop.
Now that you have learned more about the treatment for the olive tree fly, we recommend these other articles from EcologíaVerde on olive tree pests and their natural treatment and on olive tree diseases.
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