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Airport staff find dangerous fruit flies

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/11/2016

Queensland fruit fly. © MPI Queensland fruit fly. Wellington airport staff have intercepted four Queensland fruit fly larvae and stopped what is regarded as one of world's worst horticultural pests from making a home in New Zealand.

Ministry for Primary Industries detected the larvae earlier this month and fined an Australian passenger $400 for failing to declare a mandarin.

"One of our quarantine officers detected the fruit when the passenger's bag went through an MPI biosecurity X-ray machine," border clearance manager central and south region Andrew Spelman said.

"Another officer discovered insect damage on the mandarin and pulled the skin off, finding the larvae nestled inside."

It comes as the MPI last December declared its $13.6 million campaign to eradicate Queensland fruit flies successful after 14 of the animals had been found in traps in Auckland earlier in the year.

MPI staff have this year made 11 fruit fly interceptions at the border.

"Keeping fruit fly out of New Zealand is one of our highest priorities," Mr Spelman said.

"The Wellington interception shows the value of MPI's biosecurity X-ray technology, which has been upgraded over the past few years."

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