Fruit fly find sparks major action

A single male Fruit Fly found in the Hatea Drive area of Whangarei. Photo NZ Herald/Ron Burgin
A single male Fruit Fly found in the Hatea Drive area of Whangarei. Photo NZ Herald/Ron Burgin
A major biosecurity operation following the discovery of a fruit fly in Whangarei is expected to cost about $1.5 million - as officials try to protect New Zealand's $4 billion horticulture industry.

Up to 50 Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff descended on Whangarei and another 50 were in Wellington yesterday preparing to deal with the pest threatening New Zealand's $4 billion horticulture industry.

The Queensland fruit fly was found in the front yard of a home near the Whangarei Town Basin on Tuesday.

It was collected from an insect trap that's among the 7400 installed as part of the ministry's national fruit fly surveillance programme.

As of midday today, no further specimens had been discovered.

The Queensland fruit fly has been detected three times before in New Zealand - in Whangarei in 1995 and in Auckland in 1996 and 2012.

In all cases increased surveillance found no further sign of Queensland fruit fly.

A ministry spokeswoman said the response was similar to the one in 2012, which cost $1.5 million.

Ministry staff yesterday put up signs banning people from taking whole fresh fruit and vegetables out of a 200m zone circling the place where the fruit fly was found.

Bins were provided for residents to dump fruit and vegetables rather than disposing of them with other household rubbish.

Today ministry officials were putting about 200 pheromone traps into fruit trees in that zone and within a 1.5km radius of the discovery site.

The traps contain female fruit fly sex scent and are expected to detect any males. If an infestation is found, ground spraying would be carried out to eradicate the invaders.

Queensland fruit fly infests more than 100 species of fruit. Some countries will not import fruit and vegetables from sources where the fly is known to exist.

Ministry spokesman Andrew Coleman said yesterday that New Zealand's trading partners had been notified of the discovery.

If no further evidence of fruit flies was found within a fortnight then overseas markets would accept the insect was alone, he said.

 

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