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1 billion sterile Fruit Flies released in Riverland

Photo PIRSA

Sterile Fruit Flies released to combat outbreaks

One billion sterile fruit flies have now been released over the Riverland to combat outbreaks in the region following a recent expansion at Port Augusta’s Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) facility.

Since September the facility has doubled its production rate of sterile Queensland fruit flies (Q-fly) from 20 million a week to 40 million a week. The facility has now produced one billion SIT flies since the program started in August 2022.

The program reduces the fruit fly population by mating the sterile flies with wild flies, resulting in no fertile offspring.

The $3 million expansion was funded under the Federal Government’s $30 million Building Resilience to Manage Fruit Fly package, with additional contributions from the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia (PIRSA) and Citrus SA.

The expansion included the addition of separate rooms for each stage of the fruit fly life cycle and resulted in the recruitment of eight new staff.

Fruit flies are one of the World’s worst horticultural pest, destroying fruit and vegetables in commercial crops, home gardens and impacting on trade access.

Currently there are 47 outbreaks in the Riverland and restrictions remain in place for existing outbreak and suspension areas.

In order to reduce the risk of future outbreaks, travellers heading into the Riverland or returning back from interstate trips during the summer holidays are being reminded to abide by the fruit fly restrictions or face a $414 fine.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Clare Scriven, said to reach this milestone is an incredible achievement and a vital step in the Riverland fruit fly eradication response.

“The Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) facility at Port Augusta has gone from strength to strength since it was established in 2016 as the first purpose-built fruit fly facility in Australia, and it continues to be at the forefront of Australian research into sterile insect technology for Q-fly.

The Malinauskas Government is doing everything it can to eradicate the current outbreaks in the Riverland and remains committed to protecting our $1.45 billion horticulture industry from fruit fly.”

Citrus SA Chair, Mark Doecke, thanked staff a then Port Augusta facility on the milestone of one billion flies, and said the facility was the key to eradicating fruit fly in South Australia.

 

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