Fruit-fly warn­ing call for Wim­mera

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Agri­cul­tural authoritie­s are en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple across the Wim­mera and Mallee re­gions to keep an eye out for po­ten­tially de­struc­tive Queens­land fruit fly this spring.

Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria has re­ported that the na­tive pest species had ap­peared in War­rackn­abeal ear­lier this year and had been present in Wy­che­p­roof and Charl­ton dis­tricts.

Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria’s Jane Ryan said Queens­land fruit fly was a se­ri­ous hor­ti­cul­tural pest that, un­less man­aged, could de­stroy home gar­dens and com­mer­cial hor­ti­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.

Lost mar­kets and man­age­ment con­trol for Queens­land fruit fly costs Aus­tralian hor­ti­cul­ture an es­ti­mated $300-mil­lion each year.

Ms Ryan, Fruit Fly Ac­tion Plan se­nior pro­ject of­fi­cer, said fruit flies were usu­ally ac­tive from Septem­ber to May.

“Now is the time to keep a look out at in your gar­den or on your farm to see if they are present,” she said.

“Fruit flies can spread quickly, so com­mu­nity in­volve­ment is es­sen­tial to mon­i­tor and con­trol it.”

Ms Ryan said one way fruit flies could spread was through move­ment of fruit and veg­eta­bles, so was im­por­tant for peo­ple to avoid trav­el­ling with home-grown fruit.

She ad­vised Vic­to­ri­ans to refuse home-grown fruit and veg­eta­bles from friends or fam­ily trav­el­ling from in­fested ar­eas.

“In­fested fruit must be dis­posed of prop­erly, such as putting them in the sun in a sealed plas­tic bag to de­stroy eggs and mag­gots – do not put them in com­post,” she said.

“Male mon­i­tor­ing traps can iden­tify whether Queens­land fruit fly is in the area, and let you know whether it’s time to ramp up your man­age­ment.”

Ms Ryan said iden­ti­fi­ca­tion was crit­i­cal as back­yard gar­dens and or­chards were also home to many ben­e­fi­cial in­sects in­clud­ing sev­eral types of pol­li­nat­ing flies. Some can be mis­taken for fruit flies.

Adult Queens­land fruit flies are about seven mil­lime­tres long and red­dish-brown in colour with yel­low mark­ings. They are markedly dif­fer­ent to species such as hover flies and na­tive bees.

Ms Ryan said for the great­est chance of suc­cess­ful con­trol, peo­ple could speak to their neigh­bours for a con­sis­tent ap­proach and use the fol­low­ing tech­niques in gar­dens –

• Fol­low good gar­den hy­giene such as pick­ing fruit and veg­eta­bles as they ripen

• Dis­pose of un­wanted fruit and scraps care­fully

• Reg­u­larly mon­i­tor for the flies’ pres­ence in the gar­den

• Pro­tect trees, plants and pro­duce through net­ting, gaze­bos and bags • Bait and trap • Use in­sec­ti­cide con­trol

“If you have fruit trees in your gar­den but don’t man­age them, it’s best to re­move them so they don’t be­come a haven for fruit fly and grow a pop­u­la­tion in your area,” Ms Ryan said.

Peo­ple seek­ing in­for­ma­tion on man­ag­ing Queens­land fruit fly can visit web­site agri­cul­ture.vic.gov.au/qff.

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