The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating a find of a single male Queensland fruit fly in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn.
The fly was collected from a fruit fly trap late afternoon on Monday 16 February and formally identified late on Tuesday 17 February.
MPI Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Coleman, says only the one male insect has been trapped and this does not mean New Zealand has an outbreak of fruit fly.
“The Queensland fruit fly has been detected five times before in northern New Zealand – in Whangarei and in Auckland. In all cases MPI carried out thorough surveillance and no further flies were found.”
Mr Coleman says MPI has responded swiftly and field teams are starting work today setting additional fruit fly lure traps to determine if other flies are present in the area, and if other flies are there, preventing any spread of the pest out of the area.
“It is vital to find out if this insect is a solitary find or if there is a wider population in Auckland.
“This insect, if established here, could have serious consequences for New Zealand’s horticultural industry. It can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables and could lead to restrictions on trade in some of our horticultural exports.”
MPI has placed legal controls on the movement of fruit and some vegetables outside of a defined circular area which extends 1.5km from where the fly was trapped in Grey Lynn.
The Controlled Area takes in parts of Grey Lynn, Western Springs, Mt Albert, Ponsonby and Kingsland.
Detailed maps of the controlled area and a full description of the boundaries, and full information about the rules are on www.biosecurity.govt.nz .
Whole fresh fruit and vegetables (except for leafy vegetables and root vegetables) cannot be moved outside of the Controlled Area.
“These legal controls are an important precaution while we investigate whether there are any further fruit flies present,” Mr Coleman says.
“Should there be any more flies out there, this will help prevent their spread out of the area.
“Our previous fruit fly operations have shown that public support is vital to success and we have always had terrific community buy-in,” Mr Coleman says.
“We appreciate this will be inconvenient for the many people living in and around the Controlled Area, but compliance with these restrictions is a critical precaution to protect our horticultural industries and home gardens.
“It is likely the restrictions will be in place for at least a couple of weeks.”
The most likely way that fruit flies can arrive in New Zealand is in fresh fruit and vegetables.
MPI has strict requirements on the importation of fruit and vegetables to minimise this risk. Air and sea passengers are prohibited from bringing fresh fruit and vegetables into the country. MPI has to date been highly successful in keeping this insect threat out of New Zealand crops.
“This latest find demonstrates the benefit and effectiveness of MPI’s lure-based surveillance trapping network and the biosecurity system. The network involves some 7500 traps set nationwide and checked regularly.
By setting traps for these pest insects, we are able to detect their presence early, have assurance about exactly where the problem is located and respond faster and more effectively where finds are made.
Auckland – based media:
Andrew Coleman is at the field headquarters from 3.30 pm and will be available there for interview.
Address: Plant and Food Research Centre, 120 Mt Albert Road. Go to Reception and ask for Jim Flack.
Please use MPI Media phone: 029 894 0328
Report suspected finds of the Queensland fruit fly to MPI’s Pest and Diseases Hotline 0800 80 99 66.
Detail about the Controlled Area Notice:
All whole fresh fruit and vegetables (except for leafy vegetables and root vegetables) cannot be moved outside of the Controlled Area.
Within the wider Controlled Area there is a smaller central Zone A (which takes in a circle 200 metres out from the initial find), and whole fruit and vegetables cannot be moved outside of this Zone at all.
Fruit and vegetables can continue to be transported from outside the Controlled Area into the Controlled Area.
Residents are asked to avoid composting any of these risk fruits and vegetables. For disposing of fruit and vegetable waste, they are encouraged to use a sink waste disposal unit if possible.
MPI will be providing special bins in the Controlled Area for the disposal of fruit and vegetable waste. The locations of these bins will be advised shortly.