Bio-security officials in Auckland have moved quickly to contain a possible bio-security threat with the potential to decimate New Zealand's billion dollar fruit and vegetable export industry.
A single male Queensland fruit fly was found in a routine surveillance trap on Tuesday. According to the NZ Herald, this prompted the establishment of a 1,5km cordon in Avondale in Auckland to control the movement of fruit and vegetables out of the area in an attempt to control a possible outbreak.
Residents within the affected area have been asked to keep fruit and vegetables in airtight containers and to avoid composting for at least a two-week period. The NZ Herald reports that Auckland City Council and government bio-security officials are visiting "residents' backyards, checking fruit trees, vegetable gardens and rubbish bins for any signs of fruit flies".
Deputy director general for compliance and response Andrew Coleman said: "These controls are an important precaution while we investigate whether there are any further fruit flies in the area.
"The Queensland fruit fly is an unwanted and notifiable insect that could have serious consequences for our horticultural industries. While we urgently search for any further signs of the fruit fly in the Avondale area, we need the support of local people."
The plan is to limit the transportation of any material that could carry the flies or their larvae while bio-security ascertains whether this is a case of a single insect or the start of an infestation.
The NZ Herald reports that the fly, also known as Q'fly, is considered Australia's most serious insect pest of fruit and vegetable crops and infests more than 100 species of fruit, including commercial crops such as avocado, citrus, feijoa, grape, peppers, persimmon, pipfruit, and stonefruit.
About 53 Q'flies have been trapped in New Zealand since 2006 without an infestation occurring according to Horticultural New Zealand.