No fruit flies caught in traps after quarantine

The offending fly. Photo / MPI
The offending fly. Photo / MPI

No Queensland fruit flies have been found in any of the 173 traps that have been checked for the horticultural pest so far.

Hundreds of traps were set up around Whangarei after a single male fruit fly was found in the front yard of a home near the Town Basin on Tuesday, sparking fears the pest could threaten New Zealand's $4 billion horticulture industry.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) today said no suspect flies had been detected in any of the 83 traps in the controlled zone nearest to the original discovery, or in the 90 lure traps outside the controlled area.

MPI compliance official Andrew Coleman said it was a good early result, but it was important not to get complacent.

"We have still got a number of days to go before we know for sure whether there is a breeding population or not.''

Mr Coleman said the Whangarei community had been hugely supportive by disposing of 180kg of restricted produce in bins within the 1.5km controlled zone.

Almost 300 bins have been put in place to collect restricted produce, which includes all fruit and some vegetables.

"It is vital that material that could contain the fly is not taken out of the zone, just in case there is a breeding population present in the area, which takes in Parihaka, Riverside and parts of central Whangarei,'' Mr Coleman said.

The Queensland fruit fly has been detected three times before in New Zealand - in Whangarei in 1995 and in Auckland in 1996 and 2012.

In all cases, increased surveillance found no further sign of the pest.

By 8.30am today, MPI has set up 83 traps in the area closest to the original find and 162 traps in the area up to 1.5km away. Restrictions would be in place for at least a couple of weeks.

Horticulture NZ president Julian Raine was pleased no fruit flies had been found so far.

He said the anxious wait for growers would continue, but there was "light at the end of the tunnel''.

"It's definitely a relief, but there's no room for complacency and we must complete the extensive trapping programme, just to be sure. So initially it's a relief, but we're not out of the woods yet.''

Mr Raine did not know how much longer growers would have to wait for the all-clear - but it would be days, if not weeks.

He would discuss the findings and future plans with MPI officials this afternoon.

- APNZ

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