The 2018 response to Queensland fruit fly incursions has been the largest in Tasmania.
Biosecurity Tasmanian chief executive Dr Lloyd Klump spoke to producers at the Fruit Growers Tasmania conference about how the incursions unfolded and the likely source.
The first detection of Queensland fruit fly in Tasmania was on Flinders Island at Lady Barron, where larvae was found in apricots grown in a back yard.
“Anyone who’s been to Lady Barron knows it’s a fairly isolated area and the fruit trees there are in the back yards,” Dr Klump said.
Biosecurity Tasmania’s first response to the detection was relief that is was contained to Flinders Island.
“Unfortunately two or three days later we had a detection at Acacia Hills. That’s a whole different ball game with a different environment,” he said.
While Tasmania’s six separate outbreak areas were all different, Dr Klump said they could be divided into three areas: Flinders Island, Northern control area and Acacia Hills/Sassafras/George Town.
“They are three very different environments in which to combat [fruit fly],” he said.
Once the areas where Queensland fruit fly were detected had been established, Biosecurity Tasmania staff started looking at how the incursions happened.
Dr Klump said the most likely way for Queensland fruit fly to enter Tasmania is as larvae in infested fruit.
In this case he thinks the most likely source is imported mangoes.
“We’ve had reports of flies being blown up to 30 kilometres, but we don’t it can be blown across Bass Strait,” Dr Klump said.
“We don’t believe adults can get here, although they are quite famous hitchhikers, but the most likely pathway is through infested fruit.”
Infested fruit can come to Tasmania via commercial consignments; passengers who come via ferries, flights and cruise ships; and the mail.
“We frequently get all sorts of odds and sods come through the mail centres – and we quite frequently find infested fruit in those mail centres,” he said.