A lone Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) was detected in Cockatoo recently, prompting calls for community members to be vigilant.
Keep Yarra Valley Fruit Fly Free member, Bronwyn Koll, said she was alerted on Facebook after a resident found the fly inside their home.
The exact source of where the fly came from remains unknown.
“I am in two minds. The owners could have potentially brought it in without knowing about it but the way they described their routines and their habit of buying fresh fruit from reputable traders and farms, and they’ve seen no evidence in the fruit they’ve handed of it being inferior in any way. It just doesn’t add up,” Ms Koll said.
If the couple didn’t bring it in unknowingly in some fruit, then Ms Koll said there may be somewhere nearby that has hosted the fruit fly variant in the last month or two, with the fly potentially heading indoors to escape the frost.
“It makes me suspicious there might be some fruit fly activity in Cockatoo,” she said.
A fruit fly was also found in the neighbouring town of Avonsleigh in mid April this year, while an earlier sighting was reported in Belgrave on April 2.
Ms Koll believes the incidents are unrelated.
“Potentially they are both at risk of having been home to the Queensland fruit fly for a brief time because of the fall out from the fruit fly pressure building up in Melbourne,” she said.
Further surveillance in Avonsleigh following the sighting did not reveal any further cases, Ms Koll said.
Since the Cockatoo sighting Ms Koll has, on behalf of Keep Yarra Valley Fruit Fly Free, been to the Cockatoo address to inspect the insect, alerted locals and fruit growers, placed notices at Cockatoo IGA and informed people through a Facebook post.
“It’s to give people the heads up, but not to panic,” she said.
“The other reason not to panic is because we have winter on our side. It is not likely they will survive winter, particularly if we get good frosts and solid cold periods,” Ms Koll said.
Further traps have been put up and homeowners are encouraged to check their fruit.
“The best thing people can do is to destroy the fruit by boiling it on a stove or putting it in a bag and putting it in the freezer to freeze solid, “ Ms Koll said.
“The plan is, for next spring, we will have a bit of a blitz in the area to ensure that if anything has overwintered we can get onto it really early in spring. We will work closely with the Cockatoo community next spring to make sure that this problem doesn’t come back,” she said.
Ms Koll said, overall, checking for and eradicating the pest is an issue for homeowners, but she is more than happy to answer any questions or come and inspect suspected fruit fly finds.
“It’s a privilege to grow fruit in our backyard eleven and a half months a year in the Yarra Valley, and that’s a privilege we want to protect. We want people to be able to grow stuff in their backyard and eat fresh fruit,” she said.
If anyone has any questions or spots a fruit fly, Ms Koll can be contacted on 0490 381 999 or on Facebook at Keep Yarra Valley Fruit Fly Free.