14 May 2012

Confidence high fruit fly not part of wider infestation

3:57 pm on 14 May 2012

A fruit fly specialist from the Ministry for Primary Industries says confidence is high that the single Queensland fruit fly found in Auckland last week is not part of a wider infestation.

David Voice, the entomologist who identified last week's discovery, says scientists have been screening fruit taken from the area.

He says inspectors have been cutting the fruit into 3mm slices and looking for signs of larvae or eggs under the skin.

The Queensland fruit fly discovered in Avondale.

The Queensland fruit fly discovered in Avondale. Photo: RNZ

He says this process has been going on for a few days and, so far, no fruit flies have been found which he says is good news.

More traps were laid in the Auckland suburb of Avondale on Monday as efforts continued to check if the male Queensland fruit fly is part of a wider infestation.

In addition, another 150 biosecurity employees are being sent to the area this week to help investigate the discovery.

Although the Ministry for Primary Industries is still treating the discovery of the pest as a serious threat, it says an infestation looks increasingly unlikely.

However, deputy director of compliance Andrew Coleman says the ministry's response plan remains the same.

Extra staff being brought in to check and install traps, analyse fruit samples from Avondale and talk to residents.

Mr Coleman told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Monday that there is no room for complacency and it will be two weeks before anyone can say with confidence that just one fruit fly has made it into the country.

"The two-week period is there for good reason. All the tests that are in place, whether it be trapping tests or the diagnostic testing against fruit, are all important steps to make sure that we are only dealing with the one."

Some 188 traps will be laid in Zone B, a 1.5km zone around the house where the fruit fly was discovered in Wolverton Road. Another 75 traps will be laid within Zone A, which takes in a circle 200 metres out from the initial find.

Warning signs are being put up on Monday and special bins are being delivered for fruit and vegetable waste.

The measures will remain in place for at least 10 days.

Group seeks assurance over spraying

A group that campaigned against the eradication of the painted apple moth says it wants an assurance from the Government that aerial spraying will not be used in the event of a Queensland fruit fly infestation.

The People's Inquiry was set up to investigate the eradication of the moth, which began in 1999 after the pest was found in the same area of Auckland where the male fruit fly was discovered.

It says it is unfortunate the fruit fly was discovered in the same area, which required two-and-a-half years of aerial spraying to eradicate the moth.

The group's convenor, Hana Blackmore, says the community was directly in the firing line at the time and people were treated as human collateral.

Ms Blackmore says the Government's failure to learn from previous eradication campaigns was an important factor in its inability to contain the painted apple moth situation.