Watch out for….Carrot Flies

Pulling up a few carrots from the garden is one of life’s simple pleasures. They are easy vegetables to grow, and the only pest you really need to watch out for is the carrot fly. Particularly in May when they come out to play.

CarrotsWhat’s the problem?

The carrot fly is a small, black fly with a good sense of smell for carrots and other root vegetables like parsnips and celeriac. Using this sense of smell the carrot fly seeks out a nice patch of carrots and lays its eggs. The larvae hatch and merrily bury into the roots of the carrot for a good feed. This isn’t good for the carrot. Its leaves soon turn brown, and when you pull up one of your beloved veg you’ll see lots of brown patches and tunnels where the larvae have been munching away.

How do you prevent it?

Well, here’s the funny thing… The carrot fly is not very good at flying and can only really reach a height of 2 foot. So, if you protect your row of carrots (or parsnips etc) with a barrier of horticultural fleece to about 2 and a half foot tall, then they won’t be able to get to it. Or, try growing your carrots off the ground in either a raised bed or in pots.

Two more top tips

  1. When weeding, be careful not to crush the foliage of the carrots as this makes them smell stronger and attracts the carrot flies.
  2. At the end of the season, in early autumn, when you’ve harvested your crop, be sure to dig up any remaining carrots so that they’re not left there over the winter to attract more flies.