Fruit fly risk not going away

05 April 2018

The risk of one of our most unwanted pests, the fruit fly, is still top-of-mind with recent finds of flies in fruit disposed of at our airport ‘declare or dispose’ bins, and incursions into previously pest-free areas of Australia.

Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) control, surveillance and eradication activities continue on Tasmania, including responding to another single larva find in grapefruit in a supermarket the weekend before last. Biosecurity Tasmania has more than 100 staff working alongside stakeholders and industry representatives implementing a range of actions including baiting, spraying, trapping, inspecting, monitoring and planning.

South Australia has also been affected. They are managing an outbreak of Mediterranean Fruit Fly as well as QFF outbreaks in Adelaide, and an adult QFF found in a surveillance trap in Fremantle, Perth, sparked an eradication programme to prevent any further spread. Although no further flies have been found officials say movement restrictions will remain in place until at least 18 April.

As part of control efforts in Adelaide two million sterile fruit flies have been airdropped over parts of the city in a bid to eradicate female flies – watch the video showing them being dropped out of a plane.

In the future, it’s expected that Australia will use mass release of sterile fruit flies to help with small outbreaks. Plant & Food Research were granted permission in mid-2015 to import sterile flies into a New Zealand containment facility to develop new attractants for female and male flies. This work is part of a collaborative approach with Australian organisations and is supported by KVH as an integral part of our readiness activities.

KVH is closely following the detections and responses in Australia to make sure we monitor any change in risk to New Zealand.

The high-risk entry period for fruit flies runs through to June. Be vigilant and keep watch. While New Zealand does have a comprehensive surveillance programme in place for fruit fly, additional vigilance from growers adds another layer of protection. Read more about how to identify fruit flies on the KVH website.