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SA released one billion fruit flies over the Riverlands

One billion sterile fruit flies have been released in South Australia to fight outbreaks in the Riverland region, following a recent expansion at the Port Augusta’s Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) facility.

Since September, the SIT facility has doubled its production of Queensland fruit flies (Q-fly) from 20 million a week to 40 million a week. The facility has now produced one billion SIT flies since the program started in August 2022.

The program aims to reduce the number of fruit flies by mating sterile flies with wild flies, resulting in no fertile offspring.

The $3 million expansion was funded under the Federal Government’s $30 million Building Resilience to Manage Fruit Fly package, with additional contributions from the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia (PIRSA) and Citrus SA.

Federal Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister, Murray Watt, said the release highlights the success of the Port Augusta facility and its recent expansion.

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“Collaboration was key to the success of this work, made possible through the Federal Government’s Building Resilience to Manage Fruit Fly package (the package) in combination with co-contributions from the South Australian Government and Citrus SA,” Watt said.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with my South Australian counterparts on other initiatives under the package; including the recently announced post-harvest treatment facility in Adelaide, updating interstate trade protocols, roll out of electronic plant health certification and additional roadblock activities to protect the Riverland pest-free area.”

The expansion included the addition of separate rooms for each stage of the fruit fly life cycle and resulted in the recruitment of eight new staff.

SA Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Clare Scriven said the Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) facility at Port Augusta has gone from strength to strength since it was established in 2016.

Fruit flies are one of the world’s worst horticultural pest, destroying fruit and vegetables in commercial crops, home gardens and impacting on trade access.

Currently there are 47 outbreaks in the Riverland and restrictions remain in place for existing outbreak and suspension areas.

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