8 Jul 2013

Cooks succeed in fruit fly fight

6:43 am on 8 July 2013

An aggressive emergency response to the discovery of oriental fruit fly in the Cook Islands has so far proven effective.

The fruit flies were first discovered in May, and intensive trapping was set up every 500 metres around Rarotonga's main and back roads, and further inland.

An entomologist with the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Maja Poeschko, says the number of fruit flies appearing in traps dropped immediately from about 50 in each trap, to just one to three flies.

"We have a public awareness going, for everybody to help the public, to collect fallen and unwanted fruits to either feed it to the pigs, or bury it, or dispose it in another way, because they might harbour eggs and immature stages of the fruit fly in it. Since the population of the fruit fly is very very low, there are still fruits available to be sold on the market."

Dr Maja Poeschko says there is a ban on exporting or taking any fruit to any of the other islands.

She says the fruit flies are expected to be eradicated within a couple of months, but traps will remain for at least six months after no flies have been found, as a precaution.