Fruit dumped in state forest a fly concern for local gardener as agriculture department tells community to manage pest

Fruit fly prevention is no longer an option for Bendigo, the state’s agriculture department has said, with gardeners and horticulturalists instead needing to manage the endemic pest.

The comments come after a Strathfieldsaye resident discovered a pile of potentially infested fruit dumped in the Lyell State Forest. 

Dianne Davies found the pile of rotting apricots last week near Sweenie’s Creek, off Eppalock Road.

She said maggots were visible among the pieces of fruit.  

Concerned the unwanted produce could contain fruit fly larvae that would then spread to their own backyard crop, she and her husband returned later to bag up the fruit, leaving them in the sun so the insects died. 

“Occasionally there's dumped garden rubbish, but not fruit – I suppose for lazy people it's quicker and easier than going across town to the tip,” Mrs Davies said before urging people to dispose of the fruit correctly. 

She said caring for her garden of quinces, cherries, apricots and apples, as well as a patch of assorted vegetables, was a favourite pasttime.

Mrs Davies also hoped the spread of fruit fly did not force people to stop growing their own produce, especially elderly people active for whom gardening was a form of physical exercise.  

A spokesperson for Agriculture Victoria also said fruit fly was not new to Bendigo, with the bug declared endemic across Victoria, except in the Suraysia district, in 2013.

It was home gardeners who were responsible for managing fruit fly on their property, the spokesperson said, and that meant bagging unwanted fruit and leaving it in the sun as well uses traps, nets and sprays to keep the insect at bay.  

“Home gardeners should also consider removing host plants that they no longer require and reduce the size of trees that are either difficult to harvest or bear too much fruit for home use,” they said.

“Agriculture Victoria is will engage with any community group who is interested in developing coordinated approaches to targeting this pest.”