Sterile fruit fly numbers dropped over SA's Riverland should double

Some 20 million sterile fruit flies are getting dropped weekly from a plane over one of Australia’s large fruit bowls, but according to many stakeholders, it is not enough to eradicate the pest. Known as Sterile Insect Technique, the sterile flies have been used by the South Australian government as a key weapon in the fight against fruit fly outbreaks since 2019. Other states, including Victoria, also use sterile fly technology.

To restore its recently suspended pest-free status and protect the state's $1.4-billion horticulture industry, industry bodies in SA's Riverland want the production of sterile flies doubled.

Citrus SA chairperson Mark Doecke said 40 million sterile fruit flies needed to be produced weekly and dumped over the region to kill off the chances of the insect breeding further as the weather warmed. The organisation is working with Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) and has contributed $50,000 to the project, which is expected to cost about one million dollars in total.


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