Horticulture

Fruit fly activity reduced by 83 per cent

By Jamie Salter

Queensland fruit fly numbers have been significantly reduced in Cobram with the introduction of sterile flies.

As part of a pilot program, sterile fruit flies were released from a plane each week in Cobram from September last year to mid-April this year.

Cobram agronomist Russell Fox said Hort Innovation's SITPlus Program was a useful complement to the regional fruit fly management strategy.

“The sterile fruit fly releases have worked well so far and are widely supported by local growers and community,” he said.

Goulburn Murray Valley Regional Fruit Fly co-ordinator Ross Abberfield said the timing of the SITPlus project was ideal to fit in with area-wide management activity.

“In Cobram, the sterile fruit fly releases contributed to an 83 per cent reduction in Queensland fruit fly activity,” he said.

“In the Goulburn-Murray Valley, an area-wide management program co-ordinated through Moira Shire Council has been in place since June 2017.

“This activity has included the removal of feral fruit trees, abandoned orchards, and neglected urban trees on both public and private land.

“This non-SIT area-wide management program activity has shown that Queensland fruit fly activity has reduced by 57 per cent.”

Hort Innovation SITPlus program director Dan Ryan said the sterile insect technique was based on the mass rearing, sterilisation and release of targeted pest insects.

“Once released in the environment, the sterile insects mate with their wild counterparts which disrupts reproduction and suppresses pest population numbers,” he said.

“The area-wide program has been an important contribution to achieving Cobram’s outstanding success.”

Season two of the SITPlus Pilot starts mid-September and will continue through to April next year.