Cape Town – The department of agriculture has called on South Africans to not remove or tamper with fruit fly trapping buckets, after Oriental Fruit Flies were discovered near the town of Grabouw in a fruit-growing area of the Western Cape.
“Their [the bucket’s] presence is essential to the national exotic fruit fly surveillance programme,” the department said in a media release.
The flies, which are native to Asia, are regarded as pests. They damage fruit by laying their eggs in them.
The department said on Monday that the first Oriental Fruit Fly specimen, a male, was detected near Grabouw on January 31 when it was caught in a trap.
The specimen was identified a day later. On February 6, a female fly was detected in the same trap. A third has since been discovered.
A quarantine area with a 5km radius from the detection point has been established.
“Growers, packing and processing facilities of host material have been placed under quarantine and eradication initiated in a 25km2 area surrounding the detection point,” said DAFF.
“Growers within the eradication area will have to apply for permits to remove produce for packing or to move produce outside the area subject to phytosanitary conditions.”
The department said commercial fruit at threat include mango, guava, citrus, papaya, apple, pear, apricot, peach, pear, cherry, grapes, passion fruit, pepper, tomato and various members of the gourd family.
“This pest can result in food insecurity, yield reduction, job losses, market restrictions and high production and post-harvest costs, if not effectively controlled,” said the department.
Unlike other provinces in SA, the fly has not established itself in the Western Cape. According to the department it is found – in differing concentrations – in certain areas of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Gauteng and parts of KwaZulu-Natal.