Fruit fly in Auckland – Situation update 15 March 2019

Date:
Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

Two further male Queensland fruit fly have been found in Northcote, bringing the total to 6. One of the new finds is inside the current Zone A and the other is in Zone B.

Head of Biosecurity New Zealand, Roger Smith, said the latest finds will mean an expansion of Zone A in Northcote and associated restrictions on the movement of fruit, vegetables and green waste. Zone A now extends south to the bottom of the Northcote Point.

“These recent finds mean we are zeroing in on the Northcote flies and we can increase our operational response.

“Our teams on the ground will be removing fallen fruit from backyards, inspecting compost bins, and placing bait on fruit trees to attract and kill adult flies, in particular females.

“The bait is made up of a protein to attract adult fruit flies, and a very low concentration of insecticide to kill the flies. It’s similar to how people bait wasps in their backyards.

“The baits are toxic to fruit flies. We have taken every precaution to make sure the baits are safe around people and animals. They are not harmful to bees.

“We will give people living in the area at least 24 hours’ notice that we will place bait in their property and will provide them with detailed information about our programme.

“We strongly urge people living in Northcote to check if they are living in the new Zone A and what this means for them. They can do this on our website – biosecurity.govt.nz.

“We will be working closely with the local community to get this information out to people, and will start putting information in letterboxes over the weekend.

“There have been no further finds of Queensland fruit fly in Devonport since the only find there on February 14. However, because of the proximity to Northcote, we will continue with movement controls and trapping there for the time being. We will reconsider next Friday whether this needs to continue further. There is no need to undertake bait laying in Devonport.

"We are very grateful for the support all communities affected by the fruit fly detections continue to give us. We know it’s a huge inconvenience but it’s vital for our horticultural industry – and the $6 billion that in contributes to our economy – that we do this, as well as for our ability to grow fruit at home. We don’t want this pest to establish here.”

No further Facialis fruit flies have been found in Ōtara. Biosecurity New Zealand will review movement controls there at the end of next week.

Detailed maps of the controlled areas and a full description of the boundaries, and full information about the rules are at: www.biosecurity.govt.nz/fruitfly

Background and current situation

Single male Queensland fruit flies have been found in separate surveillance traps in the Auckland North Shore suburbs of Devonport (one single fly) and Northcote (6 single flies over an extended period of time).  

The Queensland fruit fly has been detected before in the upper North Island in the past decade. Biosecurity New Zealand's staff are well practised in dealing with this situation.

Three single male Facialis fruit flies have been found in separate surveillance traps in Ōtara.

To manage the fruit flies that have been found, Controlled Area Notices (CAN) have been issued for all 3 suburbs. This restricts the movement of certain fruit and vegetables out of the Controlled Area to help prevent the spread of any fruit flies if any are present.

You can download detailed maps of the controlled areas and a full description of the boundaries. Full information about the rules are at: www.biosecurity.govt.nz/fruitfly

Treating properties for Queensland fruit fly

Why we need to use baits

The Queensland fruit fly is a major threat to New Zealand horticulture, our economy and many of the fruit and vegetables people grown at home. We don’t want it to establish here. 

We have taken every precaution to make sure the baits used are safe around people and animals. We apply bait mixture in fruit trees where fruit flies lay their eggs to attract and kill adult fruit flies.

What are the chemicals being used?

The bait is made up of a protein to attract adult fruit flies and a very low concentration of insecticide (called either fipronil or spinetoram) to kill the flies.

The baits are highly toxic to fruit flies, but low risk to people and pets. The amount of fipronil used in bait spray is similar to that in a flea treatment for a large dog. Spinetoram is commonly used in agriculture. Bees are not attracted to the bait.

A small amount (50ml) of bait mixture is squirted onto some of the leaves and foliage within the shady parts of host trees via a low pressure drench gun to ensure the squirt is well directed and away from any contact with fruit.

Will you tell me if my property is going to be treated?

If baiting is happening on a property, our field teams talk to households where possible (if residents are home), or leave a letter when they have visited to apply bait.

How many times will my property be treated?

Properties in Zone A of the Controlled Area will have bait applied twice in the first 7 days to any trees that fruit flies are attracted to. We will need to return to your property every 7 days from then on to apply new bait for as long as the Controlled Area Notice remains in place. If it rains, we may need to reapply sooner.

Do I have a choice about my property being treated?

We understand there may be concerns, but it’s important we destroy all life stages of the fruit fly. We have legal powers under the Biosecurity Act 1993 to carry out this operation. The treatments have been chosen for both their safety and effectiveness. If you have further questions and want to speak to someone, contact us on 0800 80 99 66 or email FruitFly@asurequality.com

Can I eat fruit or vegetables that have been, or are near areas, where bait has been used?

The bait (fipronil or spinetoram) treatment we are using is being applied using the product’s directions. The application method (with a low pressure drench gun) is designed to minimise the chance of fruit on trees and other plants in gardens coming into contact with the bait mixture.

If the bait mixture contacts any fruit, our staff will remove it from the tree and safely dispose of it. Unfortunately for dense trees, like feijoa, this might mean removing a lot of the fruit. As a safety precaution, you should not eat fruit from trees on your property that have been treated.

Vegetables in the surrounding garden areas will be safe to eat, as they are not targeted with bait treatments. However, we recommend that you wash your vegetables with cold tap water prior to eating.

When disposing of any fruit or vegetables, use the Biosecurity New Zealand amnesty bins provided. If you have any concerns, call us on 0800 80 99 66.

Will this operation affect my health?

The treatments being used in this fruit fly eradication programme are not expected to cause any health issues. However, if you feel you or a family member are experiencing health concerns, you should immediately seek advice from your doctor, or call the National Poisons Centre on 0800 764 766.

For specific information on the bait used in this fruit fly response, visit: www.biosecurity.govt.nz/fruitfly  

For more information

If you have further questions and want to speak to someone, call 0800 80 99 66 or email info@mpi.govt.nz

Timeline: Fruit flies found in Auckland, 2019

February 14 - Single male Queensland fruit fly located in Devonport, on the North Shore.
February 18 - A different type of fruit fly, a male facialis, discovered in Ōtara, south Auckland.
February 20 - Another single male Queensland fruit fly found on the North Shore, this time in Northcote.
February 21 - A second single male facialis detected in Ōtara, only 70 metres from the first find.
February 23 - Another single Queensland fruit fly found in Northcote.
February 28 - A third single male Queensland fruit fly detected in Northcote, 270 metres from where the last was found.
March 4 - A fourth male Queensland fruit fly detected in Northcote, approximately 80 metres from where the last was found.
March 5 - A third single male facialis detected in Ōtara, 630 metres to the North of the last find.
March 10 - A fifth single male Queensland fruit fly is found in Northcote, 60 metres from where the last was found.
March 14 - A sixth single male Queensland fruit fly is found in Northcote 650 metres south of the original find.

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