Help needed to stop the rot

The current fruit fly outbreak in Broken Hill has been described as “extremely bad” this year.

Many fruit growers in town believe the issue is more severe, as they fight to fend off the pest and save their crop.

Calls for better management from local stakeholders to eradicate the problem now continue to gain momentum.

“It looked like small bruises, then when I cut them open, I saw maggots,” local grower Diana Ferry said.

Ms Ferry, who spoke to the Barrier Truth last week about her infested crop, wants change to prevent future heartbreak after another encounter with Queensland Fruit Fly recently.

“This year has been so much worse,” she said. “I want the authorities to come in and run a program to help solve the problem.

“They seem to just leave it to the induvial households when it should be their responsibility.”

The hobby grower had reached out to several agencies including the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) for help over the past few years.

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Ms Ferry said she was left to “deal with it alone” after her pleas for more hands-on assistance were shut down while the local problem continued to escalate.

“I contacted environmental authorities and I was told they we unconcerned,” she said.

“The next year I noticed it again, but it was worse…I contacted them again and got the same response.”

Pots n Plants owner, Greg Spangler, said about a dozen people have already approached his business with this issue.

“There’s a big outbreak in town,” he said. “They brough their fruits in to identify if it’s fruit fly.”

The gardening expert said products to deal with fruit fly have been in high demand.

He believes more needs to be done to ensure it does not get out of control and would like to see a joint response from the community and relevant authorities.

“We have to be careful because if left untreated, then we’ll have a big problem,” Mr Spangler said.

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“They used to have inspectors, but they don’t anymore.”

NSW DPI explained the return to warm and wet conditions has seen higher Queensland fruit fly numbers across the state.

It said it will be up to community members in effected areas to manage any outbreaks.

“Queensland fruit fly is considered endemic in NSW, meaning the pest is established in the area and management in fields and backyards is the responsibility of the landowner,” a spokesperson said.

“Infested fruit should be disposed of by placing in sealed bags in the freezer, sealed in black plastic bags and placed in direct sunlight or deep buried to ensure no larvae survive.”

The department declared it has not yet received alerts for presence of Queensland fruit fly and was last reported by Broken Hill residents in the 2020/21 season.

According to the DPI, other species like the Mediterranean fruit fly is not found in NSW.
With damage control already underway locally, Ms Ferry believes the situation may worsen if extra guidance is not offered.

“I hope so, but I’m not optimistic if the authorities don’t do their part,” she said.

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