The Ballarat Permaculture Group will sell fruit fly traps at the Ballarat Farmers' Market on Lake Wendouree today as they attempt to monitor whether the virulent Queensland pest has ventured further south.
Fruit fly larvae eat towards the centre of fruit they have infested, causing it to rot and go brown. They have been sighted further south in Victoria for a number of years, but Ballarat's cold climate had been though to be too much for them.
The permaculture group's Ben Nunquam says the project is motivated by the effects of climate change (which is pushing the fly's environment ever-southward) and fleeting sightings of the fly by AgVic and citizen scientists on iNaturalist in recent years, coming down from the northern Victorian Sunraysia growing regions.
He says the group is looking for people to host traps in their yards across Ballarat to monitor for fruit fly, and they welcome anyone who want to join the monitoring project.
"Reading the latest IPCC report, we know that the tropics are expanding," Mr Nunquam says.
"The conditions of Northern Australia are coming further south, makes it more viable for the fruit fly. There was one sighting that seems pretty convincing by a citizen scientist, south of Ballarat, that I saw last year. It looks like a correct identification, but its just a citizen identification, and only one.
"It costs about $9 for the trap kit with a lure and that will last for several months. The farmers' market is our trap distribution set-up at the moment because of COVID restrictions. It's a bit tricky to get people together. One of the great things about this monitoring program is it's going to make other community projects more viable and more possible.
"If there's not a threat, if there's not an endemic situation with fruit fly, that produce is going to be protected, and can get to people in need in the community.