New detections of the quarantine pest, Invader fruit fly, Bactrocera invadens (B. invadens) were found in the northern part of Limpopo. This fruit fly is a highly invasive species with a wide range of hosts and it causes severe damage to its host plants. The hosts include commercial fruit types such as mango, citrus, guava, papaya and bananas, wild fruit such as marula and wild figs, as well as 'vegetables' such as bell peppers, pumpkin and tomatoes.
The detections were reported from the Vhembe district in Limpopo, from the areas surrounding Tshidzini village. The area under quarantine is from Makonde village in the West to Mhinga village in the East, next to the Kruger National Park. The Soutpansberg Mountain range will form the northern border and the Levuhu River the southern border of the quarantine area.
This year, several other detections were reported in Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In most of these areas the pest has been successfully eradicated, with a few areas currently still under eradication. The areas which were successfully eradicated are the following: Baltimore, Burgershall, Deerpark, Groblersbrug, Hoedspruit, Limburg, Musina (town), Pontdrif, Weipe and Tzaneen. The areas still under eradication are Beit Bridge, Komatipoort, Levubu, Louis Trichardt (town), Tshipise and Witvlag. Actions for eradication have been completed for Louis Trichardt (town) and it is expected that quarantine could be lifted within two weeks.
Quarantine measures are implemented in the affected production and residential areas in order to contain and facilitate the eradication of the pest. The quarantine status in the specified areas is notified to individual land users by means of an official order in terms of section 7 of the Agricultural Pests Act, 1983 (Act No. 36 of 1983), specifically the control measures in regulation R110 of the same Act.
All land users and land owners, including villagers and producers are urgently requested to ensure that all fruit that has dropped and has rotted and will not be used or sold is buried and covered with half a metre of soil. Alternatively, if it is not possible to bury discarded fruit, such fruit should be placed into a strong, undamaged garbage bag, which must be securely closed to prevent the pest from escaping.
Unsuccessful eradication may lead to the dispersal of the pest from the affected areas to other production areas throughout South Africa. This will result in production losses for small-scale farmers; it may also lead to costly trade restrictions and phytosanitary measures with respect to local and international trade, or temporary loss of export markets.
To date, this pest has spread across Sub-Saharan Africa after being detected in Kenya in 2003 and it currently occurs in many African countries, including the following in the south: Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi and Zambia, as well as the northern parts of Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
As pest populations increase in one area, fruit flies will disperse to new areas. However, fruit flies spread most often through the transportation of infested fruit from an infested to a non-infested area.
It is of utmost importance that no fruit is brought into South Africa from any country without a phytosanitary import permit and that no fruit is moved out of a quarantine area without a permit.