Remove unwanted fruit trees to help eliminate Queensland Fruit Fly

Jan 5, 2022 | Fruit trees, QLD Fruit Fly

Removing unwanted fruit trees is of huge importance in combating Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF). In some states, this has been ordered by councils (including in Cobram, Victoria) and has had a positive effect in reducing QFF numbers. It is also a way of assisting the many residents across our municipality working tirelessly to eradicate this dangerous pest.

The reason QFF is so dangerous is that the females sting developing fruit and the deposited eggs turn into larvae (maggot-like insects) that destroy the fruit. The females also inject a bacterium to soften the fruit for food for the larvae when they hatch. This makes even unaffected cheeks in the fruit unfit for human consumption. If we want to grow fruit in Banyule it is essential that we eradicate Queensland Fruit Fly.

There are many old fruit trees in Banyule including the purple foliage plum often commonly referred to as ‘prunus’ (more correctly the name of the whole species), that are neglected but do produce small fruit and these are great fodder for QFF. Sustainable Macleod will be approaching the Council to remove such trees from nature strips, parks and bushland. However many are in the front and backyards of residences. These might include stone fruits, pomegranates, feijoas and figs among others. In fact any fruiting tree, vine or bramble is a risk.

If you do have any productive or unproductive fruit trees it is important to clean up any fallen fruit every couple of days and dispose of it in one of the following ways: freezing until solid in the middle, cooking by microwaving*, baking or boiling until no larvae are moving when a fruit is cut open, solarising by double bagging in black plastic bags and placing against a wall that heats up such as a metal garage or brick wall of a house for 7 days. The bags should then be placed in the waste bin (not the green bin) and under no circumstances buried or composted. Chooks can be a great help if allowed to roam under fruit trees where they will clean up any larvae in fallen fruit and prevent the larvae burrowing into the ground and pupating and emerging the following season.

Trees are very important for wildlife, biodiversity, clean air, shade and beauty. If you are willing to assist in removing fruit trees, consider replacing those trees with ones that will give you pleasure and support our environment.

*An excellent use for an old microwave is to set it up outdoors to kill QFF in fruit. This keeps the odour out of the kitchen.

Written by Robin Gale-Baker