Mediterranean fruit fly eradication in Carnarvon
A Medfly ‘blower’ arrives as part of Carnarvon eradication project.
The Carnarvon Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) eradication project has taken another step forward with the delivery of a specially designed and built ‘Medfly blower’.
The fly release machine has been delivered to the Department of Agriculture and Food in preparation for the release of millions of sterile Medfly into the Carnarvon horticultural area after April 2016.
Project operations manager Ernie Steiner said the machine was designed and built by engineer Les Zeller and his team from the University of Southern Queensland.
“They have modified an Australian made portable refrigerated cooler to incorporate an auger, heater and blower fan to disperse sterilised fruit flies,” Mr Steiner said.
The flies will be released throughout the two hundred plantations and hobby farms located within the area, as well as the township of Carnarvon.
“The release machine keeps the flies at a constant 5oC which immobilises the flies and keeps them still at the bottom of the machine, close to the augur, before blowing them out,” Mr Steiner said.
“The rate at which they are released is controlled using real-time GPS satellite information of the vehicle’s ground speed, location and calibration data.”
The dispersal unit is a redesign of a prototype which was tested late last year in Carnarvon.
The recent delivery of the Medfly release machine is just one of many components required to come together for the pilot project to be a success.
A key part is to reduce the wild population of Carnarvon Medflies to a low level prior to the release of the sterile flies.
Community Engagement Officer Sandy Leighton has been working closely with plantation owners and home gardeners to improve orchard hygiene.
More than 50 Medfly traps have been installed in and around the Carnarvon horticultural precinct as well as 10 traps across the township.
“To successfully achieve eradication through the use of sterile fly technique, we first need to reduce the wild population of Medfly in the area to a very low level,” Ms Leighton said.
“It is important that we work with the community to improve orchard hygiene and conduct effective baiting and trapping campaigns in the months leading up to the sterile fly release.
“When the release of large numbers of sterile male Medflies occurs, the females will mate with these sterile males but will not be able to produce offspring. This will deplete the already low population.”
The work is part of the Boosting Biosecurity Defences project led by the Department and made possible by Royalties for Regions and Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd.