No sign of Qld fruit flies - but controls to remain

By Hana Garrett-Walker

Fruit at the Avondale Markets, where Biosecurity New Zealand staff yesterday set up quarantine bins and handed out leaflets about the Queensland fruit fly. Photo / NZ Herald
Fruit at the Avondale Markets, where Biosecurity New Zealand staff yesterday set up quarantine bins and handed out leaflets about the Queensland fruit fly. Photo / NZ Herald

No further Queensland fruit flies have been found in west Auckland, as biosecurity officials maintain strict controls in the area after the discovery of a single fly last Tuesday sparked a major biosecurity operation.

A large-scale field effort will continue for the next 10 days to ensure that if any of the insects were present, they would not able to spread from the Avondale area.

About 30 Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff were at the Avondale Market yesterday, informing the public about the restrictions in place.

MPI deputy director general Andrew Coleman told Radio New Zealand no further flies had been found.

"We still have only the one single male Queensland fruit fly, and that's a really good place for us to be."

But he would not be drawn on his confidence that this was only one fly and there were no more in the country.

"You'd never be clear or certain, the two-week period is there for good reason, all the tests that are in place, whether it be trapping or the test against fruit that we're undertaking, the diagnostic testing against fruit are all important steps to make sure we are only dealing with the one."

There has been an additional 388 traps added in the areas around where the fruit fly was found.

Ripe fruit from the area had been collected and was being tested for larvae. The contents of surveillance traps was also being tested.

Some 200 wheelie bins had been placed throughout the controlled area for the disposal of fruit and vegetable waste.

People with in-sink waste disposal units were encouraged to use them to get rid of fruit and vegetable waste.

There were no plans for aerial spraying of the area with insecticide, and the evacuation of residents from the area would not occur as part of a potential response to an outbreak.

Mr Coleman said the control measures would be in place for at least 10 days.

"Pretty much after 10 days - that's the two week period from Wednesday/Thursday last week - you can then be confident that this was the only fruit fly.

"The surveillance trapping system is hugely effective, the testing against fruit that we're undertaking is as effective as the trap, so once you've been testing for two weeks, we will be confident that there are no more fruit fly there."

The MPI has warned the fly could have serious consequences for the New Zealand horticulture industry, which exports $2.23 billion of fruit and vegetables a year.

MPI adviser Natalie Quirke said species of fruit fly had been intercepted 53 times at the New Zealand border, preventing a population from establishing here.

The Queensland fruit fly had been detected twice before in New Zealand - in Northland in 1995 and in Auckland in 1996.

"In both cases increased surveillance found no further sign of Queensland fruit fly and there were no breeding populations present."

The Australian horticulture industry spends almost $130 million a year attempting to control the fruit fly.

- NZ Herald

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