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June 13, 2010

South Africa discovers fruit fly specimens of ‘serious concern’

by Antony Sguazzin

South Africa, the world’s second- biggest citrus-fruit exporter, said it has discovered specimens of a fruit fly strain that has spread across the continent over the last seven years.

Fruit fly specimens caught in traps on May 5 in the northern Limpopo Province near the country’s border with Zimbabwe were later identified as Bactrocera Invadens, a fruit fly strain that first appeared in Africa in Kenya in 2003, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in an e- mailed statement today.

The strain is “a quarantine pest of serious concern to the southern African region,” the department said. Movement of fruit from the area has been controlled and “eradication procedures” may be carried out.

The insect, also known as the invader fruit fly, originated in Sri Lanka and has spread south from Kenya, with specimens found in Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique in 2008. The flies are more vigorous than similar species and can damage a wide range of fruit.

The insects, which can travel as much as 100 kilometers (62 miles) over their three-month lives, eat the fruit and lay eggs inside the flesh. South Africa started a fruit fly surveillance program in January 2006. In addition to citrus, South Africa produces apples, plums and grapes.

Bloomberg

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