Regional Biosecurity

Queensland Fruit Fly

The Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) is a devastating horticultural pest. The female fruit fly lays her eggs in fruit and vegetables. The damaged fruit and veggies rot inside while the eggs mature into larvae, making the produce inedible and unsaleable.

The lifecycle continues when the larvae move into the ground, pupate, and mature into adult fruit flies. Fruit fly populations can increase in number very quickly and the damage to fruit can extend into neighbouring properties, or even across the region.

The Port Phillip and Western Port region is home to many valuable horticultural production properties (particularly in the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula) and great home gardens with edible produce, which need to be protected. In regions that have to manage Queensland Fruit Fly, expensive exclusion nets and protective sprays are used alongside trapping and baiting programs – we want to avoid this expense, and keep our region fruit fly free.

 

Source: Horticulture Innovation Australia 

 

How you can help

If you have infected fruit please ensure that that you dispose of it correctly. Put it in a black plastic bag, seal it and leave it in the hot sun for a week, then dispose of it. Do not compost it, as this allows the larvae to pupate and develop into the adult QFF.

If you’re a commercial fruit and vegetable producer

  • Practice good farm biosecurity and put measures in place to reduce risk
  • Limit host fruit and vegetables imported on to the farm, by your business, your labour force, and your visitors
  • Know the origin of the produce – both the produce and the container from QFF areas are a high risk because the infestation is likely and also hard to see
  • Install QFF monitoring trap(s), monitor weekly and share the results with neighbours, land managers, industry bodies, regional coordinator, agronomists and DEDJTR
  • Remove potential host plants around the production area of the farm, ie fruit trees not in commercial production that are not managed, includes blackberries, prunus species, figs, prickly pear, quinces, citrus and apples etc
  • Remove potential host plants near by – If you have a host plant near you on land that is managed by your local council, DEDJTR, DELWPMelbourne Water or VicRoads – report this to the relevant body or land manager to encourage the removal of this plant, or an appropriate management strategy
  • Minimise, destroy or remove ripe fruit left on trees or ripe vegies left in the paddock that are waste fruit. Pest and disease build up can increase the pressure in the following year
  • Take infested waste produce off the farm and away from production and packing areas to be destroyed

 

If you’re travelling into the region

  • Try not to bring produce in from other parts of the state or country into the region
  • if you do, they should be cooked or frozen immediately, especially if they are brought into a sensitive area, like the Yarra Valley
  • Infected fruit should be destroyed – put it in a black plastic bag, seal it and leave it in the hot sun for a week (to kill the larvae), then dispose of it.
  • Remember that infested fruit is hard to see, so don’t assume it’s safe

 

If you’re a resident with fruit trees

  • Prune trees to a reachable height – fruit higher than this are hard to reach and pick – unpicked fruit is a huge risk
  • Pick all fruit as it ripens – ripe fruit is what the fruit fly is looking for to breed
  • Pick up dropped ripe fruit and dispose of it straight away – put it in a black plastic bag, seal it and leave it in the hot sun for a week, then dispose of it.
  • If anyone brings fruit to your home – cook it or freeze it immediately to destroy any larvae that might be hiding inside it
  • Remove unwanted and unmanaged host plants – a host plant is anything that has fruit on it each year that can’t be picked (including ornamental trees)
  • If you have a host plant near you on land that is managed by your local council, DEDJTR, DELWPMelbourne Water or VicRoads, report this to them and encourage the removal of this plant
  • Encourage a collaborative effort with your neighbours to remove risk and share knowledge

 

Source: Queensland Fruit Fly Free Yarra Valley
Image credits: Agricultural Victoria

 

Area-wide integrated pest management

Throughout history, people have had to fight insect pests to reduce diseases, minimize food losses, protect agricultural trade or simply to avoid the nuisance of stinging, biting and buzzing bugs. Insect pest control is usually implemented locally in individual fields or properties. These uncoordinated efforts often prove inefficient since they only suppress a proportion of the targeted pest population. Pests from nearby untreated areas remain unscathed and can re-enter the treated areas, the damage continues, and people have little choice but to apply the control measures again and again to protect their livelihoods.

Area-wide pest management provides a more cost-effective and sustainable approach by proactively targeting entire pest populations. In this way, pest populations can be contained at low levels for longer periods and pest management methods can be integrated that are less reliant on pesticides and that better address ecological and environmental concerns.

Area-wide pest management is actively used in the Port Phillip and Western port region to protect it from Queensland Fruit Fly.

Source: Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations