Fruit Fly

​​​Important biosecurity information about fruit fly

  Fruit Fly Biosecurity Information - Northern Tasmania   (5Mb)

  Fruit Fly Biosecurity Information - Furneaux Group of Islands   (6Mb)

A detailed map of the Control Areas is available through theLIST

Fruit Fly Detection - Update 15 March 2018

Eradication, surveillance and management of waste and risk produce activities remain ongoing within the areas where fruit fly has previously been detected in the State.

There has been no change to the current Control Areas which remain in place on Flinders Island and in northern Tasmania.

No detections of fruit fly or larvae have been made outside the current Control Areas.

At and around the detection sites within the Control Areas eradication activities are continuing with spot baiting being undertaken.

Surveillance is also being undertaken with ongoing inspection of host produce at and around identified sites. Approximately 493 traps are regularly inspected across the two Control Areas.

Ongoing surveillance by departmental staff and vigilance by local community around current infected sites has made larvae detections near the George Town and Spreyton detection sites this week (March 13). A fruit fly detection was made near the Flinders Island Lady Barron site on March 6.

Response actions at these sites are continuing, as well as surveillance, as part of giving certainty to when eradication is achieved.

At the other detection site within the Northern Tasmania Control Area, there have been no further detections for 28 days.

No detections have been made at or near the Trousers Point or Badger Corner sites on Flinders Island for more than 50 days.

Biosecurity Tasmania has more than 100 staff working alongside stakeholders and industry representatives implementing a range of actions as part of the detection and eradication program. The actions include: baiting, spraying, trapping, inspecting, monitoring and planning.

The focus remains on containment, eradication and protecting Tasmania’s fruit fly free status. Actions include:
  • 88.66 tons of fruit fly host produce were collected and destroyed in February.
  • 2,674 properties have been inspected by Biosecurity Tasmania across the two Control Areas
  • 140 road signs and fruit disposal bins have been placed throughout the Northern Tasmania Control Area
  • Biosecurity Tasmania officers regularly visit growers, distributors and retailers throughout the Control Areas
  • Biosecurity Tasmania staff are attending markets, major events and community activities throughout the two Control Areas to engage communities and ensure control actions are implemented.
What you can do to help:
  • Do not move fruit fly host produce out of the Control Area.
  • Inside the Control Area ensure all rotten, fallen or remains of host produce are double-bagged prior to placing in general waste
  • Obey airport and road signs and use fruit disposal bins provided on key roads when leaving the Control Area
  • Report all suspect produce to Biosecurity Tasmania on 6165 3774


Latest information for the public

  Information about fruit fly detection traps   (909Kb)
  Information about ground treatment for fruit fly   (284Kb)
  Information about spot baiting for fruit fly   (280Kb)

  Fruit Fly Community Update   (3Mb)
  Information for roadside stallholders   (5Mb)
  Information for home growers   (2Mb)

  Information for schools, students and parents   (2Mb)
  Information for event organisers   (2Mb)

Latest Updates

Media Releases
  Fruit Fly Media Release - 20 February 2018   (716Kb)
  Fruit Fly Media Release - 15 February 2018   (427Kb)
  Fruit Fly Media Release - 14 February 2018   (378Kb)
See also: Biosecurity Advisories


Report any suspected​​ signs of fruit fly by calling (03) 6165 3774

Abo​​ut fruit flies

Fruit flies cause enormous damage to fruit and some vegetable crops around the world. They are unlikely to cause the same damage in Tasmania, but their presence at low levels may impede export trade. It is important for our horticultural industries that we keep fruit fly out of the state.

There are around 14 species of fruit fly of potential economic concern on the Australian mainland. The two that pose the most risk to Tasmania are: 
  • the Queensland fruit fly along the eastern seaboard and in the Northern Territory
  • the Mediterranean fruit fly in Western Australia.

Queensland fruit fly - Click for a larger image


A mature fruit fly is around 7 mm long and is reddish brown with some yellow markings (see image above).


Fruit fly larva - Click for a larger image

You are more likely to see fruit fly maggots (larvae) than actual flies. Fruit fly larvae look like blowfly maggots. 

Mature fruit fly larvae are 8-11 mm in length and 1.2-1.5 mm in width. They are usually easy to see in the flesh of the fruit. 

Fruit fly larva in fruit flesh - Click for a larger image

A key sign of fruit fly is a series of "stings" visible on the outside of the fruit. A "sting" is a puncture mark caused when a female adult lays eggs into the fruit.

If you open up the "sting" carefully with a sharp knife, you should see a cavity containing eggs or the debris of hatched eggs - you would probably need a magnifying glass to see it.

The number of maggots (larvae) in a single piece of fruit varies from as little as 1 to more than 60, however typically we would expect to find 4-20 maggots in each piece of infected fruit.

Sting marks and larvae of Queensland fruit fly
copyright: Used by kind permission of Agriculture Victoria


Female fruit flies lay eggs in maturing and ripe fruit on the tree. The skin of the fruit needs to be soft enough for the fly to pierce the skin with her ovipositor. Lesions in damaged fruit can also facilitate egg-laying.

The larvae (maggots) tunnel into the fruit causing rotting, and so infected fruit often falls to the ground prematurely.

Maggots continue to develop in fallen fruit, so infected fruit must not be disposed of in compost heaps.

Susceptible fr​​uit and v​​egetables

Stone fruit such as apricots, peaches and cherries, and pome fruits including apples and pears, are especially susceptible.

Citrus, fig, and many tropical fruits are also susceptible as are fruiting vegetables such as tomato, eggplant and capsicum. Some native and ornamental fruits are susceptible as well. See below on this page for a more com​prehensive list of host plants​​.

The value of keep​​ing Tasmania fruit fly free

Tasmania has a reputation, both nationally and internationally, as a reliable producer of the best fruit and vegetable products. Our freedom from a wide range of serious pests and diseases gives our producers a significant competitive advantage in the key markets. Indeed our access to the premium markets in Japan, Korea, USA, Taiwan and China is dependent on our fruit fly free status.

For many years, the belief has been that fruit fly would not survive a Tasmanian winter. However, even a temporary summer population of the pest could disrupt fruit exports. Any degree of trade disruption is undesirable for our growers.

The cost of fruit fly to producers where it exists on the mainland is substantial. That cost includes: 
  • loss of product due to in​festation
  • restricted market access for any "clean" product from within a biosecurity area (typically 15 km radius of an infested property)
  • costs of an eradication program (typically baiting)
  • costs of ongoing insecticide use
  • the loss of any market premium that goes with not having to fumigate export fruit.
It is estimated our fruit fly free status adds tens of millions of dollars a year to the export income earned by Tasmania's horticultural industries.

Ways fruit fly coul​​d enter Tas​​ma​​nia

By far the most likely way is as maggots or eggs in fruit and susceptible vegetables. That is why Biosecurity Tasmania is so rigorous in policing the ban on tourists, interstate home gardeners and returning Tasmanians from bringing fruit and vegetables into the state.

It is possible, but unlikely, that mature fruit flies could be brought across Bass Strait on the ferry or by plane.

The distance across Bass Strait is such that mature fruit flies being blown over from the mainland is considered highly unlikely.

Bio​​security measures 

Biosecurity Tasmania's fruit fly surveillance program comprises a network of around 900 fruit fly traps at various risk points, from Dover in the State’s south to Smithton in the north. These pest surveys are ongoing to prove that Tasmania is fruit fly free, and give Biosecurity Tasmania an early warning of a fruit fly incursion.

There are also legal restrictions on people bringing fruit and vegetables into Tasmania. In short, people are not allowed to bring fruit or vegetables with them when they come to, or return to, Tasmania. Biosecurity Tasmania ensures everyone coming into Tasmania is fully aware that they may not bring fruit or vegetables with them - and prosecutes those who fail to comply.

Commercial shipments of some types of fruit and vegetables are allowed only if they comply with Biosecurity Tasmania's strict biosecurity requirements (see Plant Biosecurity Manual​ for import requirements). All fruit and vegetables require special certification from the State of Origin. Most imported fruit is certified by fumigation.

The law applies not only to orchardists but also to anyone with a home garden, crops that are hosts to fruit fly such as tomatoes etc, or a small acreage that is not farmed commercially.

Where there are fruit fly affected areas on the mainland, fruit fly populations are generally a lot higher in urban home gardens and small blocks than in outlying orchards. In a fruit fly outbreak, lone fruit trees or vines in an urban backyard and neglected fruit trees or vines on non-commercial smallholdings are a major biosecurity risk. This is especially so if the owner fails to collect and destroy fallen fruit.

Host plants

The fruits grown commonly in Tasmania that could be attacked by fruit fly include: 
  • Apple 
  • Apricot 
  • Blackberry 
  • Capsicum 
  • Cherry 
  • Fig 
  • Lemon
  • Loganberry 
  • Mulberry 
  • Nashi 
  • Nectarine
  • Passionfruit 
  • Peach 
  • Pear 
  • Plum 
  • Quince
  • Raspberry 
  • Strawberry 
  • Tomato
However, a wide range of other fruits, not commonly grown here or that are only imported from warmer climates are also capable of harbouring fruit fly. For a complete list of host plants, see below. 

Images of fruit fly host produce

Major h​osts

Anacardium occidentale (cashew nut), Annona glabra (pond apple), Annona muricata (soursop), Annona reticulata (bullock's heart), Averrhoa carambola (carambola), Capsicum annuum (bell pepper), Carica papaya (papaw), Casimiroa edulis (white sapote), Chrysophyllum cainito (caimito), Coffea arabica (arabica coffee), Eriobotrya japonica (loquat), Eugenia uniflora (surinam cherry), Fortunella japonica (round kumquat), Lycopersicon esculentum (tomato), Malus sylvestris (crab-apple tree), Mangifera indica (mango), Manilkara zapota (sapodilla), Morus nigra (black mulberry), Musa spp. (banana), Passiflora edulis (passionfruit), Passiflora suberosa (Corky passionflower), Prunus persica (peach), Psidium cattleianum (strawberry guava), Psidium guajava (guava), ​Syzygium aqueum (watery rose-apple), Syzygium jambos (rose apple), Syzygium malaccense (malay-apple), Terminalia catappa (Singapore almond)

Minor h​osts

Aegle marmelos (golden apple), Annona squamosa (sugarapple), Averrhoa bilimbi (blimbe), Blighia sapida (Akee apple), Calophyllum inophyllum (Alexandrian laurel), Cananga odorata (perfume tree), Citrus aurantiifolia (lime), Citrus aurantium (sour orange), Citrus jambhiri (rough lemon), Citrus limetta (sweet lemon tree), Citrus limon (lemon), Citrus maxima (pummelo), Citrus medica (citron), Citrus reticulata (mandarin), Citrus sinensis (navel orange), Citrus x paradisi (grapefruit), Clausena lansium (wampi), Cucurbita moschata (pumpkin), Cydonia oblonga (quince), Cyphomandra betacea (tree tomato), Dimocarpus longan (longan tree), Diospyros blancoi (mabolo), Diospyros kaki (persimmon), Dovyalis caffra (kei apple), Eremocitrus glauca (Australian desert lime), Eugenia dombeyi (brazil cherry), Feijoa sellowiana (Horn of plenty), Ficus racemosa (cluster tree), Flacourtia jangomas (Indian plum), Flacourtia rukam (rukam), Fortunella x crassifolia (meiwa kumquat), Grewia asiatica (phalsa), Juglans regia (walnut), Litchi chinensis (lichi), Malpighia emarginata, Mimusops elengi (spanish cherry), Momordica charantia (bitter gourd), Morus alba (mora), Musa x paradisiaca (plantain), Myrciaria cauliflora (jaboticaba), Nephelium lappaceum (rambutan), Nerium oleander (oleander), Olea europaea subsp. europaea (olive), Opuntia ficus-indica (prickly pear), Passiflora foetida (red fruit passion flower), Passiflora quadrangularis (giant granadilla), Persea americana (avocado), Phoenix dactylifera (date-palm), Phyllanthus acidus (star gooseberry), Physalis peruviana (cape gooseberry), Pometia pinnata (fijian longan), Pouteria caimito, Pouteria campechiana (canistel), Pouteria sapota (mammey sapote), Prunus armeniaca (apricot), Prunus avium (sweet cherry), Prunus cerasifera (myrobalan plum), Prunus domestica (plum), Prunus salicina (Japanese plum), Psidium guineense (Guinea guava), Punica granatum (pomegranate), Pyrus communis (European pear), Rollinia mucosa, Rollinia pulchrinervis, Rubus fruticosus (blackberry), Rubus ursinus (boysenberry), Solanum laciniatum (kangaroo apple)​,​ Solanum melongena (aubergine), Solanum seaforthianum (star potato-vine), Solanum torvum (turkey berry), Spondias mombin (hog plum), Spondias purpurea (red mombin), Synsepalum dulcificum, Syzygium cumini (black plum), Syzygium paniculatum (Australian brush-cherry), Syzygium samarangense (water apple), Thevetia peruviana (exile tree), Trichosanthes cucumerina var. anguinea (snakegourd), Vitis labrusca (fox grape), Vitis vinifera (grapevine), Ziziphus mauritiana (jujube).

Reporting suspected fruit flies

Public assistance is a vital part of our ongoing surveillance for any signs of fruit fly. You are most likely to see larvae in a piece of fruit, either fruit you have bought or fruit in your backyard. They look similar to blowfly maggots.

If you do see what you think may be signs of fruit fly, contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 6165 3774.

If you are not sure, please report anyway. There are no costs involved in reporting and you would be performing an important public duty in alerting us to anything that might be fruit fly.

Whatever you do, do NOT dispose of any fruit that has a maggot you think might be fruit fly. In most cases, you would be asked to place it in a plastic bag or plastic container and put it in your fridge until a Biosecurity Tasmania officer collects it.

Fruit fly is declared as a List A pest under the Plant Quarantine Act 1997. People are required by law to report promptly any signs of fruit fly on their property. ​


Fruit Fly
Report any suspected fruit fly to Biosecurity Tasmania
Phone: (03) 6165 3774