Fruit fly detections in Auckland – Science Media Centre provides expert Q&A

The Science Media Centre has released a press statement dealing with the two different species of exotic fruit flies found in Auckland in the past week.  Both pose a risk to New Zealand’s horticulture industry and the threat is unlikely to disappear.

News of the second discovery, a species native to Tonga that was found in Ōtara, broke yesterday afternoon. Meanwhile, biosecurity restrictions remain in place in Devonport after a Queensland fruit fly was discovered last week.

RNZ reported that the Ministry for Primary Industries has ordered an independent review of its biosecurity systems.

The Science Media Centre prepared an item of questions and answers with biosecurity experts: Continue reading


Facialis fruit fly response in Otara – situation update

A large field operation is under way in the Auckland suburb of Otara following the discovery of a single male facialis fruit fly in a surveillance trap in the area. This is not related to the current Devonport situation.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director general Ray Smith says the main focus immediately is to determine if the fly is a solitary find, or if it is part of a breeding population in the area.

The Biosecurity New Zealand response field teams are busy today setting further traps in the affected area. If any fruit flies are around, these traps will find them. Continue reading

Review finds NZ world leader in reducing livestock emissions

The New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC) has welcomed the findings of an independent review of the centre.

The NZAGRC is a partnership launched in 2010 between leading New Zealand agricultural greenhouse gas research providers and the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC).

It is also actively supporting other bodies such as the Global Research Alliance (GRA) on agricultural greenhouse gases. Continue reading

Gut bacteria adapting to New Zealanders’ love of fruit and veg

The discovery of the first gut bacterium that specialises in breaking down a hard-to-digest substance found in plants suggests that the human gut microbiome is evolving to accommodate our consumption of fibre-rich foods.

Plant & Food Research scientists, in collaboration with New Zealand and international research partners, discovered a new human gut bacterium, Monoglobus pectinilyticus, the first specialist bacterium for pectin degradation and utilisation.

Pectin is a plant’s natural barrier to protect against bacterial attacks. It is also a primary source of dietary fibre for humans. This structurally complex carbohydrate is not a palatable food source for most bacteria as it is not high in energy. Continue reading

Minister is returning from Dubai to visit fruit fly biosecurity operation

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says the finding of a second unwanted fruit fly is disappointing and the Government is committed to ensuring it doesn’t establish here.

He said getting rid of the fruit fly is New Zealand’s most well-oiled biosecurity response.

“We’ve been here several times before and each time we’ve successfully got rid of this horticultural pest,” Damien O’Connor said.

“There will be cross-agency support for Biosecurity NZ to ensure it can call on all the resources it needs given the fruit fly responses alongside Mycoplasma bovis.

“As part of our multi-layered biosecurity system, the 7500 traps that lure the fruit fly for early detection during this summer risk season have done their job.” Continue reading

Queensland fruit fly in Auckland – MPI provides situation update

The Ministry for Primary Industries says a large field crew continues work in the Auckland suburb of Devonport today, focused on finding out if there is an incursion of the Queensland fruit fly in the area.  This follows the detection of a lone male fly in a surveillance trap in the area last week. Since then, no further flies have been found.

If it established here, the Queensland fruit fly could seriously harm the country’s fruit and vegetable crops and affect exports of some produce. If a population is found, work will progress to eradicate it.

Current work involves:

  • extending the network of traps
  • inspecting home gardens in the area for plants that could provide suitable habitat for fruit flies
  • taking fruit and vegetable samples for testing
  • providing information to local residents and visitors.

A legal Controlled Area is in place in Devonport, restricting the movement of certain fruit and vegetables from the area.

This is a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of any fruit flies out of the area in the event a population is there.

Response staff are also working with local retailers to explain the detail of the movement controls and how they may impact their businesses. Local retailers are eligible to apply for compensation for verifiable losses incurred as a result of the legal directions.

People in Devonport who believe they have seen fruit flies or have found insect eggs or larvae inside fruit or vegetables are urged to contact the response team on 0800 80 99 66.

The press statement includes information about the insect and photos

The fruit fly response at a glance

  • More than 60 people are working in Auckland and this number continues to grow. Around 20 Biosecurity New Zealand staff are working from National headquarters in Wellington.
  • Biosecurity New Zealand’s bio-secure mobile field laboratory is established at the Devonport Naval Base.
  • Staff there are inspecting produce collected from the area for signs of fruit fly and larvae.
  • Detailed information about the fruit and vegetable controls is being distributed in the area.
  • Signs are up on key arterial roads and at the Devonport Ferry Terminal.
  • Bins are going into the Controlled Area for local people to safely dispose of fruit and vegetable waste.
  • The website address for more information is

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries

Discovery of Auckland fruit fly is under investigation

Biosecurity New Zealand is investigating a find of a single male Queensland fruit fly in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of Devonport.

The fly was collected from a fruit fly trap and formally identified on the afternoon of 14 February.

Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Dr Catherine Duthie says the find does not mean New Zealand has an outbreak of fruit fly.

The Queensland fruit fly has been detected six times before in northern New Zealand – in Whangarei and in Auckland. Only one of  those detections, in Auckland in 2015, turned out to be a part of a wider breeding population and this was successfully eradicated by Biosecurity New Zealand. Continue reading