Fruit fly population increase prompts management plan from Bendigo council

The Bendigo council is working on a plan to manage the fruit fly scourge besetting horticulturalists and backyard growers in the city.

The council, which monitors the pest with traps in its public parks, said the move comes after an increased number of Queensland fruit flies were recorded in the area.  

City of Greater Bendigo resource recovery and education acting manager Bridgette McDougall said work was already underway to control fly populations, with workers removing fruit from trees on public land.

She encouraged residents to do the same at their homes.  

“In line with advice from Agriculture Victoria, the city advises residents that find fruit fly on their property to put the affected fruit in a double lined plastic bag and leave it in the sun for a week to kill larvae,” Ms McDougall said. 

“This bag then needs to be put in the general waste bin and not the organics bin, as the composting process is not guaranteed to remove larvae from the end product.

But she refuted suggestions that the council’s organic waste collection program was helping the insect establish a foothold in Bendigo gardens. 

Even though the fly was declared endemic across Victoria in 2013, several growers told the Bendigo Advertiser their gardens were more susceptible to infestation since the green bin scheme came into place.  

Statewide fruit fly co-ordinator Cathy Mansfield said it was possible eggs and larvae inside produce could continue developing inside the bins.  

She too said unwanted fruit should not be thrown into either the compost or organics collections, even after being bagged and treated.

“The biggest risk is if people put fruit into their compost because that’s the perfect climate for fruit fly,” Ms Mansfield said.

In her estimation, netting was the best prevention tool available, with a physical barrier between flies and the fruit offering gardeners the best chance of getting their produce to harvest.

“The problem is, for some home gardeners, they consider it an expensive option,” Ms Mansfield said, also explaining not everyone was physically capable to encasing their fruit trees in nets. 

Those that could should do so in early spring, just after their trees have flowered.

Ms Mansfield said Bendigo community groups were welcome to apply for money from an Agriculture Victoria grants scheme funding fruit fly prevention initiatives in regional Victoria. Local government areas could also apply to share in the funding.