Bactrocera dorsalis, or Oriental Fruit Fly (OFF), has for the first time been found in the Western Cape region of South Africa. However, industry organisation Hortgro says it has acted swiftly to counter any threat that may exist.
According to a statement, Hortgro has been proactively preparing for the possibility of the appearance of OFF in the Western Cape for more than a decade.
OFF, a fruit fly of Asian origin first discovered in Kenya in 2003, has established itself in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and parts of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
“It is an evasive fruit fly that can cause considerable damage if not controlled,” says Hugh Campbell, Hortgro Science’s general manager. “Its preferred host is mangoes, but it has a wide host range and all efforts are being made to keep it from establishing itself.
“This is the first time that it has to be eradicated in the Western Cape and all efforts are being made to ensure that it does not establish itself in this region or in the other regions of South Africa that are currently free of the pest,” he notes.
According to Campbell, there are 1,400 monitoring traps in the Elgin, Grabouw, Vyeboom and Villiersdorp region alone.
“These traps are part of an area-wide monitoring and control initiative for fruit fly. This programme is managed by FruitFly Africa (FFA) and is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) as part of a national surveillance programme.”
Campbell says the national action plan came into play immediately after the first OFF was caught. “All growers and packhouses in the region were notified and an area of a 5km radius of the trap was placed under quarantine.”
A removal permit, which is based on control and containment actions, is now required to move the host material to a pest-free area.
A delimiting survey was implemented by FFA to identify the potential spread of the fruit fly and weekly control measures have been implemented by the growers and FFA as part of an eradication programme.
“If no further OFF are caught in any of the delimiting traps for a period of 12 weeks or three generations of the OFF, the area will be considered as eradicated and the quarantine measures will be lifted," Campbell adds. "The area will then be declared as eradicated."