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Adelaide airdrop next front in fruit fly battle

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Up to 20 million sterile flies will be released in the skies above Adelaide every week for the rest of the year as efforts continue to contain a spate of fruit fly outbreaks threatening the state’s horticulture sector.

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The flies will be released from a low-flying plane as part of the ongoing eradication program across 12 separate outbreaks.

“Sterile male fruit flies seek out female fruit flies in outbreak areas, mating with them so they can’t reproduce and therefore breaking the life cycle,” Primary Industries Minister David Basham said.

“As well as from a plane, our biosecurity officers are releasing up to six million sterile fruit flies in Adelaide each week on the ground.

“We expect fruit flies in the outbreak areas across South Australia to become active again as the weather warms up and the government has been working closely with industry to prepare for our biggest fight against fruit fly.”

So far the government has spent $40 million on its eradication efforts across the 12 outbreaks in metropolitan Adelaide as well as five in the state’s Riverland and one at Port Augusta.

Basham said fruit flies could have a devastating impact on our $1.3 billion horticulture sector, threatening thousands of jobs.

“Overwhelming the wild population with our sterile flies will stop them breeding and now is the time, before the weather really warms up and the flies become more active,” he said.

“More than 400 staff have been baiting and trapping within the fruit fly outbreak areas across the state during these cooler months, and working with residents to remove fallen fruit and picking ripe fruit from trees to reduce the numbers of flies and the quantity of fresh produce available to them.

“Fruit flies lay their eggs in fruit, the eggs grow into maggots that make the fruit rotten and when it falls to the ground the maggots dig into the soil to finish their life cycle, becoming flies that emerge from the ground to breed again.”

Restrictions on the movement of fruit are in place across the 18 outbreaks and are expected to remain in force until at least December.

-AAP

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