New fruit fly weapons

By Country News on December 15, 2015

Managing Queensland fruit fly in the Goulburn Valley without the use of harmful cover sprays was the topic of a national fruit fly roadshow in Tatura.

Guest speakers spoke about different ways to reduce fruit fly numbers at the DEDJTR office on Friday, December 4.

Research entomologist Peter Vargas from the United States spoke about his successful experience in managing fruit flies in Hawaii using an area-wide pest management program.

Using a combination of GF-120 NF Naturalyte fruit fly bait and male annihilation treatments, Dr Vargas — with the United States Agricultural Research Service — was able to reduce melon fly infestation from more than 30 per cent to less than five per cent over a 3500ha suppression area.

The use of harmful cover sprays, called organophosphates, dropped by 90 per cent in this area.

Dr Vargas said the success of the area-wide pest management program proved you could manage fruit fly without harmful cover sprays completely.

‘‘Many of the chemicals that have been used for many years are being banned (in Australia),’’ he said.

‘‘If you are putting poisons on fruits and vegetables it really defeats the purpose.’’

The use of male annihilation treatments was elaborated on by Olivia Reynolds from NSW DPI, who discussed her experience with sterile insect technology.

She described fruit fly as the most significant insect biosecurity threat to the Australian horticulture industry.

‘‘If left uncontrolled it could cause $100million in damage,’’ Dr Reynolds said.

She described her study of the sterile insect technique in Queensland as a ‘‘birth control’’ for insect pests without harming desired insects.

The use of the sterile insect technique has already been trialled in the region, however, fruit growers were reassured the technique was different now, and could be successful if used properly as an active, not reactive, response.

By Country News on December 15, 2015

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