Fruit fly found in Tasmanian backyard

Tasmania's fruit growing industry is taking "extremely seriously" the discovery of a suspected Queensland fruit fly larvae on apricots in a suburban backyard in the state's North-West.

Biosecurity Tasmania is investigating how the suspected fruit fly larvae arrived in a backyard in Spreyton.

Entomologists have identified the larvae as a species of Bactrocera, which is a List A pest under the Plant Quarantine Act 1997.

The discovery threatens the state's coveted fruit-fly-free status which underpins the state's lucrative fruit and nut exports, worth $100 million a year.

This follows the discovery of fruit fly larvae on apricots at two sites on Flinders Island in the past week.


Queensland Fruit Fly.
Queensland Fruit Fly.

Fruit Growers Tasmania president Nick Hansen said authorities were taking the potential incursion "extremely seriously" and a briefing was expected to be held on Thursday.

"Every measure is being taken to ensure this doesn't progress to anything other than larvae detection," Mr Hansen said.

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment chief plant health manager Andrew Bishop said a member of the public reported the larvae in a sample of their backyard fruit.

"We have immediately implemented our Tasmanian Fruit Fly Operations Standard and have now established control zones around this site, as well as implementing surveillance and control actions," Mr Bishop said.

This includes a full-site assessment of the infected property with susceptible fruit and vegetables being removed from the site under biosecurity measures. The soil will be treated and surrounding properties within a 200m radius will be inspected to determine the extent of incursion.

Mr Bishop said the larvae was also being genetically tested to confirm identification, which may also help trace its source.

"At this stage we are focusing on eradication of the pest from the infected sites, determining the extent of the incursion to implement further measures if required and undertaking genetic testing and other investigations," he said.

Mr Bishop said it was too early to tell if this was linked to the Flinders Island detection.

The state had informed its Commonwealth and interstate counterparts in line with reporting requirements, he said.

"We have also informed industry and major growers and a major priority is to work closely with them and interstate authorities to minimise impacts on our growers," he said.

"We will be continuing to keep them informed and continue to work closely with them as we implement necessary actions while this incursion is managed."

Mr Bishop said surveillance and treatment actions are ongoing on Flinders Island with all public reports being followed up as well.

While surveillance is being undertaken around current infected sites, all members of the public are being encouraged to be aware and remain vigilant to signs of fruit fly.

Sites around the Spreyton area will receive information in coming days to outline Biosecurity Tasmania's response plan, the treatment options and what measures people can take relating to the movement and removal of fruit.

Fruit fly larvae look like blowfly maggots and are usually easy to see in the flesh of the fruit.

People are required by law to promptly report any signs of fruit fly on their property.