Scores of biosecurity staff are fanning out over Auckland’s North Shore checking hundreds of surveillance traps and inspecting fruit in search of the Queensland fruit fly.

A third male has been detected but the Ministry for Primary Industries says there is still no evidence of a breeding population in the area. 

The first fly was detected in Devonport on Feb. 14, followed by a second in Northcote. This most recent discovery was also in Northcote, 113 metres from the earlier discovery.

“This latest detection is further evidence that our surveillance programme is working and it is pleasing we still have no indication of an established breeding population,” Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Catherine Duthie said.

“Our trapping and surveillance has been enhanced and this programme will find any further flies in the area.”

There are currently 154 surveillance traps for the Queensland fruit fly in Northcote and 173 in Devonport. 

Duthie said biosecurity staff are also collecting fruit from properties near where the flies were found and are checking this for larvae. More than 300 kilograms of fruit have been inspected in a mobile laboratory with no detections to date.

The movement of fruit and vegetables from nearby areas is restricted, staff and contractors are continuing to collect disposal bins for processing. Almost three tonnes of fruit and vegetable waste have been collected from the North Shore and in Otara, where another variety of fruit fly has been detected.

New Zealand is currently free of the fly, but if it gained a foothold it could have a devastating impact on the horticulture export industry, forecast to reach $6 billion of sales in the year to June.

The flies spoil many crops, often rendering them inedible and New Zealand could also face trade restrictions. At risk are all citrus fruits, all stone fruit, apples, pears, passionfruit, feijoa, grapes, guava, blackberry, boysenberry, cape gooseberry, custard apple, quince, persimmon, crab-apple, loquat, kumquat, pumpkin, olives, avocado, tomato, eggplant, and capsicum.

The insect can be difficult to catch at the border because it can arrive as eggs or tiny larvae concealed inside fruit.

Separately, two Facialis fruit flies – a native of Tonga – have also been found in Ōtara, both within the same zone. A total of 221 traps are in place and additional traps will be deployed, MPI said. 

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