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Fruit fly investigation underway on North Shore

Published: 25 February 2019

25 February - Update - Second Queensland fruit fly found in Northcote

A second Queensland fruit fly has been found in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of Northcote.

The detection was in what is known as Zone A in Northcote and was 113 metres from the original detection there.

A significant trapping programme has been in operation on Auckland's North Shore since the detection of a single male Queensland fruit fly in Devonport on 14 February.

All traps on the North Shore have been checked. Those traps in Zone A are checked daily for the first 7 days after the find.

"This latest detection is further evidence that our surveillance programme is working and it is pleasing we still have no indication of an established breeding population," says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson, Dr Catherine Duthie

"Our trapping and surveillance has been enhanced and this programme will find any further flies in the area."

140 Biosecurity New Zealand staff, contractors and industry partners are working on the response.

In addition to the trapping, Biosecurity New Zealand staff are collecting fruit from backyards in Zone A and checking this for larvae. More than 300 kilograms of fruit has been inspected in our mobile laboratory with no detections to date.

As the movement of fruit and vegetables from Zones A and B is restricted, staff and contractors are continuing to collect disposal bins for processing. Nearly three tonnes of fruit and vegetable waste has been collected from the three suburbs affected. This is the normal amount of fruit and vegetable waste in these areas. Instead of putting waste in rubbish bins to be disposed of normally, the waste is being put into the special response bins for Biosecurity New Zealand to dispose of securely.

At the weekend, Biosecurity had a strong presence at the Otara Market, supported by community leaders, educating the public about the facialis fruit fly found in the suburb. 

"The response and support from the public there was amazing, as it has been in Devonport and Northcote too," says Dr Duthie. "This is critical as we need the whole community to pull together on this type of biosecurity response."

Rob Delane, the independent reviewer engaged to head an assurance review of the air passenger, cruise and mail pathways commenced his work today.

Three single male Queensland fruit flies have been found in separate surveillance traps in the Auckland North Shore suburbs of Devonport (1) and Northcote (2).  There is no evidence of a breeding population.

If you find larvae inside fruit, or believe you have seen a fruit fly, keep hold of it and call 0800 80 99 66.

View the full Biosecurity New Zealand media release for more information.

21 February - Update - Queensland fruit fly detected in new area on Auckland’s North Shore

Surveillance activity in Auckland will be stepped up following the discovery of a second Queensland fruit fly on the North Shore.

The solitary male fly was collected from a fruit fly trap and formally identified yesterday (20 February). It’s the second Queensland fruit fly found in the past week. The first was detected in a surveillance trap in Devonport on 14 February.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director general Ray Smith says while there have now been two finds, it does not mean New Zealand has an outbreak of fruit fly.

“We are totally focused on finding out if there is an incursion of the Queensland fruit fly in these areas. At the moment, these are two single males found quite some distance apart, and there’s no evidence of a breeding population.

“We have an absolute commitment to tracking down these unwanted pests and ensuring New Zealand is free of harmful fruit fly.

“As such, I have commissioned an independent assurance review of our air and cruise passenger pathways which will get underway next week. We want to ensure we have the best system possible.

Australian expert Rob Delane has been appointed to carry out that review, and he’ll be on board next week to get that underway.”

Mr Delane is a former deputy secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Australia and a former director general of the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia.

“Biosecurity New Zealand deals with dynamic challenges. Changing trade and traveller patterns, climate change and emerging technologies mean we have to continually evolve our biosecurity system. Advice from the independent assurance review will be invaluable.”

On the ground in Auckland, a field crew continues work in the suburb of Devonport today, where no further fruit flies have been found. A similar field crew has begun work in Northcote.

Northcote Controlled Area

To manage the fruit fly that has been found, an area of Northcote has been placed under a Controlled Area Notice (CAN). This is effective from today. This restricts the movement of certain fruits and vegetables out of the Controlled Area to help prevent the spread of any fruit flies if there are more than one. The CAN is a legal notice and might affect you if you live in the area. 

A brochure with information about the fruit fly and controls will go to homes in the area this morning.

"We will be working closely with the local community as we have found from past experience that public support is vital to success.”

The Queensland fruit fly has been detected before in the upper North Island. Of these detections, only one in Auckland in 2015, turned out to be a part of a wider breeding population and this was successfully eradicated.

Biosecurity New Zealand is also continuing a large field operation in the Auckland suburb of Ōtara following the discovery of a single male Facialis fruit fly in a surveillance trap in the area. This is not related to the current Devonport or Northcote situation.

The fruit fly response at a glance:

  • More than 80 Biosecurity New Zealand staff working across all responses.
  • Field crews are working across these responses, working closely with the communities impacted.
  • Biosecurity New Zealand is busy having leaflets translated into a number of languages including Samoan, Tongan, Chinese, Cook Island Maori, Fijian and Hindi.
  • Signs have been put on key arterial roads in and out of Ōtara and in Devonport, and will now be placed in Northcote.
  • Bins will be provided in the area so local people can safely dispose of fruit and vegetable waste.
  • The website address for more information is www.biosecurity.govt.nz/fruitfly

15 Feb - Original Story - Fruit fly investigation underway in Devonport

An investigation is underway after a single male Queensland fruit fly was caught in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of Devonport.

This investigation is being led by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The fly was collected from a fruit fly trap and formally identified on the afternoon of 14 February.

Information about the Queensland fruit fly is on the MPI biosecurity website at biosecurity.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/queensland-fruit-fly

Devonport under a Controlled Area Notice

To manage the fruit fly that has been found, an area of Devonport, Auckland, has been put under a Controlled Area Notice (CAN). This is effective from 15 February 2019. This restricts the movement of certain fruits and vegetables out of the Controlled Area.

Find out more about the Controlled Area and whether your home and business is in the area here

Investigation underway

Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Dr Catherine Duthie says the find does not mean New Zealand has an outbreak of fruit fly.

The Queensland fruit fly has been detected six times before in northern New Zealand – in Whangarei and in Auckland. Of these detections, only one, in Auckland in 2015, turned out to be a part of a wider breeding population and this was successfully eradicated by Biosecurity New Zealand.

Dr Duthie says Biosecurity New Zealand has responded swiftly and field crews are starting work today setting additional fruit fly lure traps to determine if other flies are present in the area.

"It is vital to find out if this insect is a solitary find or if there is a wider population in Auckland that will need to be destroyed.

"If it established here, the Queensland fruit fly could have serious consequences for New Zealand’s horticultural industry. It can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables and could lead to restrictions on trade in some of our horticultural exports."

Biosecurity New Zealand is working closely with international trading partners and GIA [Government Industry Agreement] partners in the horticultural industry to minimise the risk to New Zealand growers and exporters.

As a precautionary measure, restrictions will be soon be put in place on the movement of fruit and vegetables out of the area. Instructions to the public about these controls and the exact area affected will be issued shortly.

A brochure with information about the fruit fly and controls will go to homes in the area later today.

"We will be working closely with the local community as we have found from past experience that public support is vital to success.

"In the meantime, we ask people who live in Devonport not to move any fruit or vegetables from their homes," Dr Duthie says.

"You may notice increased activity in the neighbourhood as we go about inspections and trapping. Our inspectors will seek permission to investigate fruit trees on your property if required."

The most likely way that fruit flies can arrive in New Zealand is in fresh fruit and vegetables. Biosecurity New Zealand has strict requirements on the importation of fruit and vegetables to minimise this risk. Air and sea passengers are prohibited from bringing fresh fruit and vegetables into the country. Biosecurity New Zealand has to date been highly successful in keeping this insect threat out of New Zealand crops.

"This latest find demonstrates the benefit and effectiveness of MPI’s lure-based surveillance trapping network and the biosecurity system. The network involves some 7500 traps set nationwide and checked regularly," Dr Duthie says.

By setting traps for these pest insects, we are able to find them early, have assurance about exactly where the problem is located and respond faster and more effectively where finds are made.

Staff from across the Auckland Council family will be offering their support to MPI as they respond to this find.