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The Australian handbook for the identification of fruit flies

Fruit flies are one of the world’s most destructive horticultural pests and pose risks to most commercial fruit and vegetable crops. This has major implications for the sustainable production and market access of Australia’s multi-billion-dollar horticultural industry. Worldwide there are over 4,000 species of fruit flies in the family Tephritidae of which around 350 species are of economic importance.

More than 300 species of fruit fly occur in Australia although only a few of these have been found to have any degree of economic impact, with Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni) and Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) being the species of primary economic concern. It is therefore important to distinguish between the species that pose a threat to production and domestic market access and those that do not, including exotic species.

Australia is free from many species that impact horticultural production elsewhere. Neighbouring countries in south east Asia and the South Pacific are home to numerous species of fruit fly that pose an immediate incursion risk to Australia. Rapid diagnosis of these flies, should they arrive in Australia, is therefore a critical prerequisite to containing and eradicating the populations before they establish.

The accurate identification of fruit flies is a key component of Australia’s biosecurity system. It underpins the domestic movement of fruit and vegetables, maintains international market access for Australian producers, and protects Australia’s borders from exotic pest incursion.

The handbook is a compilation of diagnostic information for 65 fruit fly species, most of which are exotic to Australia, including the non-tephritid fruit infesting Drosophila suzukii (spotted-wing Drosophila). The handbook is intended to facilitate rapid diagnosis of fruit fly species and be a comprehensive guide for Australian diagnosticians and field officers involved in maintaining, supporting and enhancing Australia’s biosecurity system.


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