Authorities have suggested a novel new way for people to share fruit, but not hungry fruit flies.
Make jam instead.
It has already been described by critics as a “back of the beer coaster” solution to stop the time-honoured trade tradition between neighbors with excess fruit and vegies.
Most community Facebook pages have posts from residents wanting to share an over abundance of fruit before their harvest spoils.
Some towns even have mini-markets on weekends where people trade surplus harvest from their car boot.
Unfortunately, they might also be trading fruit fly maggots, according to Agriculture Victoria.
“Share the overflow of fruit and vegetables from your garden with neighbors in jams or sauces this autumn and reduce the risk of spreading Queensland fruit fly,” the government department says.
The annual eradication efforts across most states are aimed at protecting commercial fruit crops, which has left backyard garden lovers on their own.
The fight has already been lost in many backyards, particularly in Victoria, where home gardeners have largely been left to their own devices in terms of netting and trapping.
Many backyard fruit trees have been lost.
But commercial growers in Western Australia and South Australia are desperate to keep outbreaks under control so they can enjoy pest-free status and access export and domestic markets.
Queensland fruit fly is declared endemic in most states – Queensland, NSW and most recently in Victoria.
The National Fruit Fly Council says fruit flies threaten more than half of Australia’s $13 billion horticulture sector and the 60,000 people it employs.
There are constant outbreaks in South Australia, where border crossing officials still check travelers for fruit.
Fruit fly has been has eradicated from Perth seven times since 1989 where it keeps a permanent network of surveillance sites.
Maintaining fruit fly free status allows WA growers access to export markets, such as avocados to Japan and strawberries to Thailand.
Tasmania managed to eradicate a surprise outbreak in 2018.
Victoria wrestles with infestations annually trying to keep the pest out of important horticulture areas like Sunraysia and Swan Hill.
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Agriculture Victoria statewide fruit fly coordinator Cathy Mansfield said homegrown fruit and vegetables can look great on the outside but still be infested with maggots inside.
“Instead of sharing your backyard bounty fresh, cut it up and use it to make preserves or pastes as this will go a long way to stopping the spread of QFF around your neighborhood,” Ms Mansfield said.
“Cutting open fruit and vegetables is one of the best ways to check for QFF, so whether you’re part of a big family sauce day or working solo in the kitchen keep an eye out for creamy colored maggots inside your plums, peaches, quinces or tomatoes,” Ms Mansfield said.
Home gardeners are told any infested fruit and vegetables should be sealed inside a plastic bag and placed in a freezer for two days or microwaved or boiled to kill any maggots.
Alternatively, double-seal fruit or vegetables inside two plastic bags and place in the sun for at least 14 days, then discard in your rubbish bin (not the green waste bin or your compost).
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