Primary Industries
& Regions SA

Fruit fly

Fruit fly is one of the world’s worst fruit pests and can destroy fruit and vegetables in commercial crops and home gardens.

Fruit Fly Hotline 1300 666 010

South Australia remains the only Australian mainland state that is fruit fly free ensuring:

  • the protection of the state’s commercial production of fruit and vegetables (in 2014–15, the estimated farm-gate value of the state’s horticultural produce vulnerable to fruit fly infestation, including wine grapes, was $1.1 billion)
  • horticultural producers’ access to lucrative export markets (such as citrus and almond export markets in the United States, New Zealand and Japan worth about $120 million a year)
  • an estimated $4.2 million a year saving for the citrus industry, by avoiding the need for cold and chemical treatments
  • home grown fruit and vegetables requiring fewer pesticides.

Every year the South Australian Government spends about $5 million keeping fruit fly and other plant pests out of the state, through a range of prevention, detection and eradication measures.

These measures have made a significant contribution to the decrease in recorded fruit fly outbreaks in South Australia. In the past ten years the average number of outbreaks has been 1.8 per season, compared with the previous ten year average of 3.9 outbreaks per season.

South Australia remains under threat from a large number of fruit fly outbreaks in eastern states, so it is vital that prevention, detection and eradication measures continue.

The $3.8 million National Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) facility has been constructed in Port Augusta to assist in the fight against fruit fly. Once fully operational it will produce 50 million sterile male Queensland fruit flies each week. The flies will be released to mate with females, collapsing wild populations in fruit fly affected horticulture growing regions across Australia and New Zealand.

Fruit fly life cycle

More than 80 species of fruit fly are found in Australia, including the native Queensland fruit fly (Q-fly), which is endemic in the eastern states and the Northern Territory, and the introduced Mediterranean fruit fly (Med-fly), which is endemic in Western Australia.

Female fruit flies lay eggs in a wide range of fruits, vegetables and other plants including citrus, apples, pears, apricots, cherries, berries, bananas, capsicum, tomatoes, table grapes, wine grapes, olives and almonds.

Fruit fly larvae (maggots) hatch from the eggs deposited in the fruit and vegetables, and feed on the fruit and vegetable flesh, thereby destroying it. They shelter in the soil before emerging as flies, which then feed and breed.

Fruit fly can spread from endemic areas to fruit fly free areas if fruit and vegetables infested with eggs or larvae are transported by travellers or in commercial consignments.

Points to remember

  • If you are carrying fruit or vegetable produce when travelling into South Australia or the Riverland, eat it, bin it, or declare it.
  • If you find maggots in fruit or vegetables, or suspect fruit fly or other plant pests or diseases, immediately call the fruit fly hotline on 1300 666 010.

Related information


Fact sheets and brochures

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Hotline: 1300 666 010

Page Last Reviewed: 15 Jun 2018

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