Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fruit flies, bellinas and leaf/flower damage.

Phalaenopsis bellina by you.

It has been quite some time since I last updated my blog. I need to clean out the cobwebs in the corners! The above is a wallpaper I made of some of my Phalaenopsis bellina blooms from the past to present.

My bellinas are blooming nicely right now and the fruit flies are back in huge numbers. I arm myself with a water-based mosquito spray when I am in the orchid house to spray at mozzies as well as these bothersome fruit flies.

Here are some pictures:
Fruit flies and bellina blooms by you.Fruit flies, bellinas and leaf/flower damage by you.

This particular plant has 4 blooms open right now and it attracts dozens of fruit flies per day, tricked by the fragrant fruity smell. Thankfully the leaves have suffered no damage and there are now new succulent leaves emerging at the moment. The flies do not seem to be attracted to my Phalaenopsis violacea blooms at all, those are equally fragrant (but lack the lemon fruity smell).

Fruit flies tricked by a bellina flower by you.

I am actually trying to determine if these flies are indeed responsible for stinging my Phal plants (leaves and petals).

I isolated two plants growing on the same mount and flowering to a snail free nursery area. The flies are free to visit the flowers however. Here's what happened so far...
DSCF2223 by you.

One of the flowers show significant damage which appear to be triggered by sting "wounds" - tiny puncture holes tiny dots of fluid on them. I cannot be sure if the liquid is plant fluids oozing from the plant or excretions by whatever did the damage.

DSCF2224 by you.

However, the other plant's flower on the same mount which is also visited by the fruit flies has not been damaged. This of course is no scientific experiment. I am still unable to pin point for sure the culprit as there may be tiny little snails in the mount, although it is sprinkled with snail bait.  It's probably both the snails or slugs and the flies doing the damage. The flies sting the flowers, causing the puncture holes which then get infected and the snails devour the soft petals. If so, snails and slugs I can deal with but the flies are a different story. I read that the fly bait (methyl eugenol) apparently attracts only male flies. This would mean the females are left to sting the flowers to lay their eggs. The idea of the fly attractant is to kill the males which mean no second generation as the flies no longer can mate. So far it hasn't work too well as the flies come in ever increasing numbers each "season."

I guess the other alternative is to cover the entire orchid house with netting and see what happens to my phals when the flies can no longer enter. At least I can isolate the plants from the flies and see if the problem of my phals suffering from damaged new leaves continues. See my next post for this very frustrating leaf damage problem!

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Andrew said...

Dear Sarawak Lens
Your beautiful pictures and text show fruit flies attracted to these orchids. Work done in Malaysia has shown that some orchid species attract some species of male fruit flies for pollination purposes. On the other hand the flies ingest chemicals from the orchid (most likely methyl eugenol)which they use to make sex-pheromones which attract female flies to them. So the orchid gets pollinated by the fly and the fly gets its pheromone! Both sides kick a goal!

sarawaklens said...

Thanks for that helpful bit of info Andrew. Appreciate it.

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