News and Views

Control Medfly in citrus to protect Carnarvon’s horticultural industry

Al Holtham from Janna Plantations collects fallen citrus fruit to help control Mediterranean fruit fly in Carnarvon. Image supplied by WA DPIRD

People involved in Carnarvon’s valuable horticulture industry and backyard citrus growers are urged to act now to control Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) and help break the lifecycle of the destructive pest insect.

The WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has shared the advice as part of a project to pilot the eradication of Medfly from the horticultural area.

Medfly is considered to be one of the world’s worst horticultural pests and attacks a range of fruit and vegetables.

WA Department technical officer Brett Renton said the Medfly population was currently at a very low level in Carnarvon, which meant control activities carried out now would be highly effective.

“During winter, host fruits such as mangoes and grapes were not fruiting, which reduced the opportunity for Medfly to breed,” Mr Renton said.

“During winter when there are limited hosts to support the Medfly lifecycle, the population can drop significantly, however if there are just a few unmanaged fruit trees, Medfly can survive and breed.

“One of the main hosts of Medfly during the cooler months is citrus, which provides food for the maggots and shelters the adult flies.”

Mr Renton said citrus trees were common in backyards and on plantations throughout Carnarvon, and they were often unmanaged, providing the perfect environment to support fruit fly during winter.

“A productive citrus tree can produce far more fruit than required, with unwanted ripened fruit attracting Medflies,” he said.

“As the temperatures rise during spring, the sheltering Medflies start to emerge and move to other host fruit and vegetables.

“Citrus owners in Carnarvon are advised to prune their trees to reduce yield and remove and destroy infested fruits, preventing the further development of eggs and larvae and emerging fruit flies.”

Other effective Medfly control activities include installing a fruit fly trap, picking unwanted fruit from the tree, and collecting and disposing of fallen fruit from the ground by placing it in a bag and leaving it in the sun for a few days.

Unwanted fruit trees should be removed.

People who live in the Carnarvon township and have Medfly host trees in their yard and who are interested in receiving free fruit fly traps are invited to call the department’s Gascoyne Research Facility +61 (0)8 9956 3333 to register their interest.

Mediterranean fruit fly is a declared pest and landholders are obligated to control them on their properties.

The work is part of a Boosting Biosecurity Defences project, supported by Royalties for Regions, with Carnarvon’s Recognised Biosecurity Group, to attempt to eradicate Medfly from the region.

More information about how to control Medfly is available on the department website by searching for ‘fruit/Mediterranean fruit fly’.

Source: WA DPIRD

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