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City air strike as sterile fruit flies released from the sky

Almost 100 million sterile fruit flies will be released from the sky over Adelaide across ten weeks in an aerial assault starting today to combat metropolitan fruit fly outbreaks and help protect thousands of jobs in South Australia’s horticulture industry.

The Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) flies will be released from a low-flying fixed wing airplane across the 11 outbreak areas in metropolitan Adelaide in the latest move in the Marshall Liberal Government’s fruit fly eradication program.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the male sterile fruit flies will seek out female fruit flies in the outbreak areas.

“The Marshall Liberal Government is committed to eradicating fruit fly from South Australia and releasing sterile flies from the air is the latest weapon in our armoury,” Minister Basham said.

“These sterile flies are bred to be strong, fit, and very attractive to the wild fruit flies.

“In total 90 million sterile flies will be released across 10 weeks with flights twice a week over outbreak areas where the sterile flies will breed with the wild flies meaning they can’t reproduce, and we break the life cycle.

“Don’t be alarmed if you see this plane flying low over your suburb, this is an important step as we continue our eradication program to protect the thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses threatened by these outbreaks.

“We have had more than 400 staff on the ground undertaking baiting and fruit stripping operations across the outbreak areas, at a cost of almost $20 million in the eradication effort to date.

“As we continue to battle fruit fly outbreaks, it is vital South Australians continue to follow the strict quarantine rules in place to protect the $1.3 billion horticulture industry vulnerable to fruit fly.

“If you live in an outbreak area you must not move fruit and vegetables off your property, especially over the Easter long weekend and school holidays as many South Australians travel around the state.

“This is a reminder to keep your garden tidy by picking fruit as soon as it is ripe, collecting fallen fruit from the ground, and disposing of it correctly according to where you live.”

The fruit flies for the metropolitan aerial release are bred in a dedicated Medfly SIT facility in Western Australia, with the Port Augusta SITPlus facility breeding sterile Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) for the Riverland eradication program.

Restrictions are currently in place for the 11 metropolitan Mediterranean fruit fly outbreaks and one Qfly outbreak until at least 18 December.

Visit the fruit fly website www.fruitfly.sa.gov.au for all the most up to date information including detailed maps or call the Fruit Fly Hotline on 1300 666 010.

Photo: Sterile Queensland fruit flies (Source: ABC).

Acknowledgement: this article was reproduced from a media release by Premier SA.