Saturday, August 20, 2022

Millions of sterile fruit flies to be released weekly

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The Hon. Clare Scriven, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development (SA), Media Release, 3 August 2022

Sterile fruit flies will be released across the Riverland this week, as part of an eradication plan to stop breeding.

From Monday 1 August, the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) started releasing 20 million sterile male fruit flies per week.

Sterile flies – known as SIT (Sterile Insect Technique) flies – will be released from utes in the highest risk areas surrounding detection sites.

These sterile male flies will be released in quantities of about 3,000 per hectare where they’ll breed with wild female flies and prevent them laying fertile eggs that hatch into destructive fruit flies.

The next stage of the program will involve sterile flies being released by a low flying plane targeting fruit fly affected areas, from September 2023. This will help reach properties not near roads.

If you are a commercial grower and would like to be part of the self-baiting program, please email fruitfly@sa.gov.au or call 1300 666 010 to request a registration form.

Quotes attributable to Clare Scriven

Aerial sterile fruit fly release was one of the successful tactics used in the metropolitan Adelaide fruit fly response last year where 12 outbreaks were successfully eradicated. The fruit fly response tactics are ramping up now because flies that hibernated over winter will become more active as spring approaches.

Quotes attributable to PIRSA General Manager of Fruit Fly Response Nick Secomb

Riverland residents may notice more PIRSA field staff visiting their properties, and they may see sterile insect release vehicles on the streets and the airplane up above.

We want to get rid of flies as soon as they emerge and prevent breeding as much as possible. PIRSA, growers and the community all play a role in achieving this.

The sterile fly release works best when baiting, traps and lures are hard at work on the ground – so PIRSA staff in orange overalls will continue to visit residential properties to hang traps in trees and check for fruit fly.

Quotes attributable to Riverland Fruit Fly Committee Chair Jason Size

Commercial growers in red fruit fly outbreak areas can now register for a new self-baiting program where they will receive free bait and devices, such as traps to use on their properties. Growers know their properties best, and growers can achieve a greater reach across the region.

Growers will be more involved than ever before and will give fruit fly eradication efforts greater reach and greater intensity than previously possible.

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