Residents have been urged “don’t be alarmed” if they see the latest bid to eradicate pesky fruit flies in action.
Residents have been urged “don’t be alarmed” if they see the latest bid to eradicate pesky fruit flies in action.

Bold sex plan to beat fruit flies

The South Australian government will unleash close to 100 million sterile fruit flies from the sky in a bold plan to try and eradicate the critters plaguing numerous suburbs.

The Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) flies will be released from a low-flying fixed wing aeroplane across 11 outbreak areas spanning across metropolitan Adelaide and Renmark.

The program, under which 90 million "attractive" male insects will be released, will begin on Saturday and run over ten weeks with flights twice weekly.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said the sterile flies were the SA government's "latest weapon in our armoury".

"These sterile flies are bred to be strong, fit, and very attractive to the wild fruit flies," Mr Basham said.

"The sterile flies will breed with the wild flies meaning they can't reproduce, and we break the life cycle."

He urged residents: "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."

More than 400 department staff have begun baiting and fruit stripping operations across the outbreak areas.

The eradication efforts have cost the state government almost $20 million to date.

PIRSA biosecurity officers have been doorknocking residents and offering assistance to strip ripe fruit off their trees to help stop the spread of fruit fly. Picture: Keryn Stevens
PIRSA biosecurity officers have been doorknocking residents and offering assistance to strip ripe fruit off their trees to help stop the spread of fruit fly. Picture: Keryn Stevens

Mr Basham reminded South Australians to continue following "strict" quarantine rules in a bid to protect the state's $1.3 billion horticulture industry.

"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," he said.

"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."

Efforts to contain the flies sparked some confusion and outrage at the beginning of the school year when parents and caregivers were told they could not pack certain fruits and vegetables in lunch boxes because of the severity of the outbreak.

Restrictions across all 11 outbreaks are expected to remain in place until at least December 18 this year.

Visit the fruit fly website or call the Fruit Fly Hotline on 1300 666 010 for more information.

Originally published as Bold sex plan to beat fruit flies


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