Six-figure funding fires up fight against THAT fly

Oct. 22, 2023 | 5 Min read
If the supply of water gives life to the Goulburn Valley’s horticulture industry, then one program above all others targets a tiny, airborne threat to ensure it bears fruit.

If the supply of water gives life to the Goulburn Valley’s horticulture industry, then one program above all others targets a tiny, airborne threat to ensure it bears fruit. 
Greater Shepparton City Council has given a more than $230,000 contract to IK Caldwell AGnVET, which has highlighted the importance of the region’s fruit fly program to the Goulburn and Murray valleys’ fruit and vegetable production. 
Mayor Shane Sali says the program controlling fruit flies is almost as vital as having access to water itself. 
You can have one but you don’t need the other. 
“We speak about water; fruit fly is nearly as important, so I want to highlight the good work those fighting it do, and I’m glad this council is getting right behind that,” he says. 

A Queensland fruit fly can reproduce after six weeks and produce 800 eggs.

IK Caldwell AGnVET will be conducting an extensive trapping program and then monitoring Queensland fruit fly. 
“QFF attack and damage a range of fruit and vegetables and it is recognised as a serious pest across Greater Shepparton and Goulburn Murray Valley,” Cr Sali says. 
“This contract is an important one in helping us combat this potentially devastating pest. The spread of QFF poses a serious threat to the region’s horticulture industry, along with domestic and international trade opportunities.” 
Goulburn Murray Valley Regional Fruit Fly Group was launched in 2016 to strengthen the region’s fruit fly management. Measures and strategies have since been funded by the Victorian Government’s Managing Fruit Fly regional grant program. 
Regional fruit fly co-ordinator Ross Abberfield says the Goulburn Murray Valley Fruit Fly Area Wide Management Program was based on creating awareness, education and engagement in the community, industry and government to reduce the economic impact of fruit fly. 
The program is supported by the Victorian Government and covers five shires — Greater Shepparton, Campaspe, Moira, Strathbogie and Berrigan — 16,500sq/km and 150,000 people. 
“Queensland fruit fly trapping and monitoring is extremely important in ensuring we know what we are up against,” Mr Abberfield added. 
“The growers depend on producing a fruit fly-free crop each season for a living, so they manage on-farm control of fruit fly very, very effectively, but they don’t have any control over the community or the government.” 
That’s why a primary focus of the program has been educating residents with fruit and vegetables growing on their properties and removing unmanaged trees on private and crown land. 
“More than 500 awareness road signs have been erected throughout the region and more than 5000 reports identifying ‘hot spots’ have been acted upon by targeting those areas and offering free removal of unmanaged and unwanted fruit trees,” Mr Abberfield says. 
“More than 108,000 fruit trees have been removed since we began, and that represents so far, representing a huge amount of unmanaged fruit fly habitat.” 
The effort is bearing results, too, with a 60 per cent reduction in Queensland fruit fly trapping numbers across the Goulburn Murray Valley region between 2017 and 2019. 
But with the enemy able to slow its metabolism, retreat to evergreens in the warmer suburban gardens or even the ground through winter, and single females able to lay eggs from five weeks old and hundreds in in a lifetime, the battle is yet to be won. 
“In the GMV, we’ve got around $1.7 billion worth of fruit and vegies we produce which are known hosts to fruit fly. That’s a big chunk of our economy,” Mr Abberfield added. 
“If detected by export trading partners, then the Australian horticulture industry as a whole will be impacted.” 

Categories Fruit Fly

Read also

View all

Identifying wild versus sterile fruit flies

A nose for trouble

Common fruit flies are beginning to build a resistance to common insecticides