Anxious Auckland residents living inside a Queensland fruit fly exclusion zone will have to wait until tomorrow to find out if any more of the pests have been found in the upmarket suburb of Grey Lynn.
More than 90 field staff from the Ministry for Primary Industries spent today setting fruit fly lure-traps to determine if the Australian insect had spread to the area, following the discovery of a male Queensland fruit fly in a trap earlier this week.
The field teams also collected samples of fruit from home gardens in the area to test for any flies, their eggs or larvae.
A mobile field laboratory was also brought into Grey Lynn to analyse the collected fruit samples and any insects found in the traps.
However, results from those tests would not be known until tomorrow morning at the earliest, MPI chief operations officer Andrew Coleman said.
It could be an anxious wait for residents living inside the controlled area, including Grey Lynn, and parts of Western Springs, Mt Albert, Ponsonby and Kingsland, as it will determine how long the current restrictions on the movement of fruit and vegetables remain in place.
Tight controls have been established within a 1.5km circular containment zone, which also includes an even more stringent inner 'Zone A' within a 200m radius around the initial find.
Mr Coleman said it was a "very important operation".
"If established here, the Queensland fruit fly could have serious consequences for New Zealand's horticultural industry."
Meanwhile, both Prime Minister John Key and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today rejected claims the Government was neglecting biosecurity following accusations from both Labour and the Green Party that "flimsy" border controls had allowed the potentially devastating fruit fly into the country.
"There are 10 million passengers across our border a year, 175,000 items a day come across our border. That's why [biosecurity] will continue to be my number one priority," Mr Guy said.
While the luggage of New Zealand and Australian citizens were not x-rayed at international airports, passengers did have to fill out biosecurity declarations and there were dog sniffers, he said.
Mr Key also also insisted biosecurity was a "top priority".
Despite changes to MPI, the emphasis was "very much on making sure that we do what we can to stop pests like the Queensland fruit fly", Mr Key told TV3's Firstline.
"But at the end of the day, these things are prolific in Australia, a lot of fruit comes across the Tasman [in] a lot of different ways and so the big job now is to make sure that within that Grey Lynn area that we're very vigilant."
Mr Coleman said MPI had been "working with the Australians" to find ways to prevent the spread of the fruit fly across the Tasman Sea.
"People may ask why we're putting so much effort into an individual insect -- well, the reality is for New Zealand, we don't want a breeding population," he said.
"In Australia they have breeding populations, so what happens is they have to declare that internationally and because of that declaration, there's a whole lot of restrictions that can now be placed and have been placed on Australia exporting fresh fresh fruit and produce -- we don't have those same restrictions."
MPI had 7500 surveillance traps which were usually checked every two weeks, but the traps were now being checked every three days as the ministry was in a "response mode", Mr Coleman said.
Anyone found taking fruit or vegetables out of the exclusion zone could be prosecuted under the Biosecurity Act.
The maximum penalty for anyone prosecuted is a $50,000 fine or three months imprisonment, while the maximum penalty for a company is $100,000.
* To check if your property is in the exclusion zone go here.