Port Augusta sterile insects released in Riverland
Millions of sterile fruit flies from the Port Augusta based National Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) facility have been released in Loxton as the state government declares war on the Queensland pest.
In April last year two million fruit flies bred at the facility were airdropped over a quarantine zone in the north-western suburbs of Adelaide.
The Queensland fruit flies are bred in labs, sterilised with X-rays and then released into areas with wild populations to breed with females.
Labelled the “super sexy sterile fruit fly” the lab-bred species have been given supplements to make them sing better, smell better and seem fitter to their female companions.
The wild female flies eventually become outnumbered and die out.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the release of sterile Queensland fruit flies in the outbreak area is a key tool in eradicating the pest from Loxton.
“The use of SIT fruit flies in outbreaks in South Australia has proven highly successful and this week’s release in the Riverland is a shot across the bow of Queensland Fruit Fly in the region,” Mr Whetstone said.
“The Riverland SIT release is a first for the region and further demonstrates South Australia’s leadership in adoption of fruit fly technology.”
Eradicating the Queensland fruit fly and protecting the state’s $1.25 million horticulture industry has become a top priority.
The Queensland fruit fly costs the Australian horticultural sector $300 million in lost markets and damaged produce every year.
The eradication response involving SIT, hygiene and baiting operations is regarded as the best method for effective fruit fly eradication.
“We are working closely with affected industry and the Commonwealth Government on the Loxton outbreak and I want to acknowledge the excellent and vigilant work being undertaken on the ground by Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA),” Mr Whetstone said.
“Keeping South Australia free of fruit fly is everyone’s responsibility and that it is why the State Government has introduced zero tolerance at the Yamba Quarantine Station and random roadblocks to change the culture of motorists carrying host material into the state.”
The Loxton quarantine zone will be lifted on April 29, 2019 without any further detections.
The release is part of the SITplus program, a nation-wide partnership that aims to assist in eradication of Q-fly outbreaks across Australia.