Millions of sterile Queensland fruit flies (Qfly) have been dropped from the sky over Adelaide as part of the SITPlus initiative’s ongoing fight to help Australian growers manage this damaging pest, which costs the horticulture sector $300 million every year.

The flies were sourced only from Australia’s National Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) Facility in Port Augusta, South Australia, and their full-scale release marks a major milestone in the work done by the partners delivering the $45 million SITPlus research and development partnership, including Hort Innovation.

The flies have been raised to be more attractive to the wild Qfly population, supporting the end goal of encouraging wild Qflies to breed with these sterile insects instead of reproducing. You can read more about their release, which took place on Tuesday 3 April 2018, on the Hort Innovation website.

This latest development is only one part of a suite of initiatives funded by Hort Innovation to combat fruit fly under its Hort Frontiers Fruit Fly Fund, which is part of the Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative using co-investment partners and contributions from the Australian Government. These include:

Hort Innovation has also recently launched a website dedicated to explaining area-wide management of fruit fly using the SIT technique, with information tailored to coordinators, commercial growers and backyard growers. The site has a range of useful materials and information, including all the science and research that formed the foundation of the guidelines, and even downloadable posters and fact sheets.

Funding partners for the SITPlus initiatives include: Hort Innovation; Macquarie University; the South Australian, Victorian and NSW Governments; CSIRO; the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research; and a range of levy paying industries. The Australian Government also invested $2.35 million through the Rural R&D for Profit program to develop guidelines for the release of SIT flies through an area-wide integrated pest management program, to create the optimal conditions for SIT fly releases to be successful.

This post appeared in the AUSVEG Weekly Update published 10 April 2018. Subscribe to the Update using our online form to receive the latest industry news in your inbox every week!