Having Northland kiwifruit and avocado growers monitoring their orchards for Queensland fruit flies could be an inexpensive way of extending biosecurity protection.
A former NZ avocado grower representative in the mid-North, Mike Eagles, suggested the extension to the Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI) fruit-fly surveillance programme could fit in with growers' present work on their orchards.
"Most avocado growers already have surveillance traps catching male leaf rollers," he said. "The growers do pest monitoring fortnightly and spray according to what they find in the traps.
"If MPI gave every grower a few Queensland fruit-fly traps it would be in the growers' interests to watch them, along with the leaf rollers, and tell the ministry if any fruit flies were caught."
Mr Eagles, who grows avocados on 4ha at Maungatapere, said a fruit-fly infestation would skittle the horticulture industry in Northland.
Scientists claimed the Queensland insect could not survive a Northland winter, but he suspected the frost-free climate north of the Maungataniwha Range might be warm enough for them.
"We've got to keep pests out," Mr Eagles said, urging tighter border controls at airports. He favoured luggage inspections for heavy drugs, firearms and bugs and less emphasis on alcohol and tobacco. "Someone could do more damage importing a Queensland fruit fly than a bottle of rum," he said.