Nearly 80 000 unmanaged fruit trees have been removed to deter Queensland fruit fly, as part of Goulburn Murray Valley Fruit Fly Project’s free tree removal program.
GMV regional fruit fly co-ordinator Ross Abberfield said the program focused on disrupting the pest's habitat in unmanaged orchards.
“We have been able to reduce potential breeding habitat by working with property owners to remove unmanaged orchards that have been non-productive for two consecutive seasons or more,” Mr Abberfield said.
“These orchards are inspected by Agriculture Victoria staff to verify they meet the strict conditions necessary to qualify for the removal program.”
The unmanaged fruit trees in non-productive orchards have been professionally removed at no cost to property owners.
A similar program removes unmanaged fruit fly habitats from private residential properties and public lands.
“Every unmanaged fruit fly host tree and plant removed means a permanent reduction of suitable habitat for fruit fly to lay eggs and breed,” Mr Abberfield said.
Mr Abberfield said it only took one unmanaged fruit tree to provide a potential food source for new generations of fruit fly to flourish.
“A single female fruit fly can lay up to 800 eggs that can reproduce another generation within four to six weeks, so it is very easy for large increases in fruit fly populations to occur very quickly,” he said.
Increasing fruit fly populations are known as hotspots and are identified through multiple project trapping grids across the GMV region.
Mr Abberfield said action to reduce these populations must be undertaken immediately, to stop the spread of the fruit fly to neighbouring properties.
“Field officers are deployed to hotspots as they are identified, to assist in combating the spread through increased awareness, education and support — such as our tree removal programs amongst growers, community and government agencies,” Mr Abberfield said.
The project has achieved a 60 per cent reduction in fruit fly numbers across the region.