New Zealand: Single fruit fly prompts clampdown

Fruit flies on a piece of fruit Image copyright NSW Department of Primary Industries
Image caption The insects lay their eggs inside ripening fruit and breeding populations are difficult to eradicate

The discovery of a single fruit fly is worrying New Zealanders - and proving costly for the government.

Officials are trying to find out if the destructive pest has spread to other areas after a male fly was found in an Auckland suburb, the New Zealand Herald reports. The insect is native to Australia, but so far no breeding population has been established in New Zealand. An exclusion zone has been set up in the Grey Lynn area where the fly was found, meaning the movement and disposal of fruit and vegetables is restricted. Officials worry that any spread of the fruit fly could be disastrous for the country's NZ$5bn ($3.8bn; £2.4bn) horticulture industry. A similar scare last year in the northern city of Whangarei lasted three weeks and cost nearly NZ$1m, the website reports. The 7,000 residents within the zone will now be visited by government officials, and "they can expect to have people on their property hanging traps from their trees," Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy told a press conference. Special bins will be in place for fans attending Cricket World Cup games at the Eden Park stadium, which is within the exclusion area, TVNZ reports.

Horticulture New Zealand, which advocates for fruit and vegetable growers, wants the government to do more in terms of prevention, describing traps as the "last line of defence". The organisation's boss, Peter Silcock, wants all bags from Australia to be X-rayed on arrival "because that's where this risk is coming from", he says. The Queensland fruit fly, native to the north-eastern Australian state, is considered one of the most destructive in the world, the Stuff.nz website explains. While New Zealand has strict bio-security measures at its border, the horticulture industry's great fear is that a breeding population becomes established in the country, which would likely lead to a ban on trade from export partners.

Image copyright New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries
Image caption The exclusion zone means people cannot transport fruit of vegetables outside the area

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