Prickly pear providing unwanted help to flying pest

Prickly pear still causing fruit fly harbouring headaches

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A pest species may be providing safe refuge to another pest species.

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ONE pest species may be providing safe refuge to another pest species in the fight to eradicate fruit fly.

While there has been a lot of work done to try and reign in fruit fly outbreaks across the Riverland and other parts of SA, Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board district manager Hannah Spronk says it is important to consider all potential hosts of the pest.

She said the declared plant pest species Opunticid cacti, or prickly pest, also acted as a fruit fly host.

"And while people may not want to get to close to the cactus, fruit flies are happy to use their fruit as a home," she said.

"We encourage everyone to tackle the Opuntia cactus a noxious weed from a fruit fly perspective.

"While on the lookout for your new season summer fruit, trees and veggie patches, make sure you check any plants you may have on your property or the adjacent roadside for fruit fly."

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Mrs Spronk said there has been success in breeding cochineal, a biological control for Opuntia cacti, at Riverland nursery sites for some time.

When cochineal infected cactus pads are attached to healthy cactus plants the biocontrol cochineal slowly eats away the plant, finally killing it.

"There are also other control methods such as stem injectors and spray trailers used for cactus control work that landholders can borrow," she said.

"Give us a call and ask a district officer to check out what type of cactus you have on your property - some look very similar, and flowers, which are opening now, are the most definitive way of identifying the different species."

There is also an Opuntia ficus-indica species that is not a declared weed in SA.

It is a spineless variety of cactus, and some people grow these for their fruit - but the same warning applies to dispose of any unused fruit appropriately.

For more information on identifying or controlling opuntia, contact the Riverland District Team at the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board, Berri, on phone: (08) 8580 1800.

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The story Prickly pear providing unwanted help to flying pest first appeared on Stock Journal.

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