Fruit pest returns

The Queensland Fruit Fly has been detected in Silvan recently.

Council is asking residents to be on the lookout for the Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) in coming months and help prevent its spread, after a detection of the fly in Silvan this month.

The Queensland Fruit Fly is a horticultural pest, which lays eggs in fruit and vegetables. The damaged fruit and veggies rot inside while the eggs mature into larvae, making the produce inedible and unsaleable.

QFF was detected in the Yarra Valley in February 2018, in January 2019 and March 2020. Containment and eradication treatments were then put in place by private landowners.

Yarra Ranges Council was notified of a recent detection of the QFF in early January this year.

Residents in the immediate surrounding area are being notified in writing and provided with information on how to prevent the pest spreading.

The QFF is active in fruiting season, though populations increase in spring when temperatures rise above 16 degrees. They can remain active in autumn and winter in warmer weather.

Council and Agribusiness Yarra Valley will work with the landowners to contain and eradicate any QFF.

Fruit fly populations can increase in number quickly, and the damage to fruit can extend into neighbouring properties, or even across the region.

Residents with fruit trees can prune their trees to a reachable height, harvest fruit quickly and keep an eye out, as the fruit fly looks for ripe fruit to breed.

Good ways of preventing the spread of the Queensland Fruit Fly are:

• Pruning fruit trees in gardens to a manageable size. Smaller fruit trees are easier to implement fruit fly controls on and are more manageable for home gardeners. Infestation can occur when fruit on high branches are left unharvested. The best time of year to prune fruit trees is in late winter and early spring, when trees are generally dormant.

• Picking fruit before it falls from the tree. Damaged and fallen fruit can become a refuge for fruit fly maggots. Dispose of all fallen or damaged fruit properly to minimize the risk of spreading QFF.

• If you have fruit grown in areas where QFF exists and are returning to the area, leave it behind, eat it all or cook it before bringing it into the Yarra Valley to protect the area.

• Install QFF traps if you are in the Yarra Valley, and monitor each week for flies.

• Apply fruit fly bait on trees and leaves if you’ve had a detection in your area. The bait will kill flies.

Infested fruit or vegetables can be microwaved to kill maggots. Alternatively, fruit and vegetables can be frozen for two days to kill off maggots and larvae before they are disposed of.

QFF traps and bait are available at garden centres or online.

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