Fruit fly is invading Victoria and we need to take action
Queensland Fruit Fly is no longer limited just to Queensland and New South Wales. They're a declared serious pest which is widespread in Northern Victoria and it's now threatening fruit production across Victoria. Fruit fly is a threat to commercial and backyard growers alike.
The Queensland Fruit Fly might look harmless on this leaf, but a swarm of them can wipe out your crop. Photo credit: James Niland
The Fruit Fly – Be prepared MasterClass is an information session and forum for home growers and commercial producers to hear first-hand from industry experts, scientists and a grower's perspective. You will learn the damage that the fruit fly can cause and what your business and the community can do to prepare for it. This is a serious threat to fruit as we know it, but there are some preventative measures that both farmers, community groups, schools and households with fruit trees can take. So if you know anyone who grows fruit, please send them the details about this information session.
Queensland Fruit Fly (Bactrocera tryoni) is a destructive horticultural pest. Adult flies are 5 to 8mm in length when they are fully grown. They are light red-brown, with distinctive yellow stripes and patches.
Queesland Fruit Fly grows up to 8mm in length Photo Credit: Agriculture Victoria
The host list is huge and includes citrus, cherries, apples, pears, berries, avocado, passionfruit, persimmons, tomatoes, quinces, stone fruit, native fruits, even rose hips and more. The only fruit that I'm told with any certainty that might be safe from the Queensland Fruit Fly is pineapples, but don't hold me to that!
The fruit fly stings the fruit, this is where the problems begin. Photo Credit: Agriculture Victoria
The problems with the fruit fly begins when the female stings the fruit, so she can lay her eggs just under the surface. The fruit is still ok to eat at this stage, but not acceptable commercially. Once their larvae hatch inside the fruit, it's inedible, causing significant damage or even wiping out entire crops.
When the fruit fly larvae hatch, the fruit is ruined. Photo credit: Agriculture Victoria
Recent warm wet years, has seen the pest populations survive in regions where it has not historically survived before. Fruit fly in Tatura, which is in the heart of the Goulburn Valley, has devastated commercial and backyard growers. The climate is changing and research also shows that this species is adaptable and is now surviving better in the cold. This makes the fruit fly an incredible threat to Victorian farmers and home gardeners alike.
Through Agriculture Victoria, the State Government has funded the appointment of a Queensland Fruit Fly Regional Coordinator in the Yarra Valley, to help protect horticultural production and keep the area fruit fly free. This emphasises the threat that this fruit fly is. It's something that all regions in Victoria should be aware of, so they can take action to prevent its spread. Once it's here, there will be significant costs to control it or devastating crop losses.
Preventing the Queensland Fruit Fly from spreading any further is going to be far less costly to growers and therefore consumers, than it would be to control them. The most effective method of control, was harsh chemical sprays, but they are now banned due to concerns for human health. So prevention of further spreading, is the most logical way to combat this problem.
Having recently heard Bronwyn Koll speak about the detrimental effects of the fruit fly in Northern Victoria, I can say first hand that this information session is a must for anyone who grows fruit!
The speakers at this Fruit Fly Awareness and Prevention Forum are • Bronwyn Koll – Yarra Valley's Regional Coordinator to help protect the region from Queensland Fruit Fly • An orchardist from a fruit fly region • Penny Measham, speaking on Area Wide Management (with her research team) Area Wide management coordinator • David Williams who is a leading research entomologist with Agriculture Victoria at the Horticulture Centre of Excellence, Tatura, Victoria. David's work has improved the knowledge and management of many insect pests in Australia and he is currently researching the fruit fly. His continuing research in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is part of the Productivity, Irrigation, Pest and Soils (PIPS) program funded by apple and pear levies.
These experts will share their experience with Queensland Fruit Fly and explain why it's critical that we prevent it from spreading any further throughout Victoria. They will also explain why it's important for the community to support this and what we can do to prevent the risk.