Joint media release: One billion sterile fruit flies released over the Riverland as Port Augusta SIT facility reaches major milestone

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Murray Watt
South Australian Minister for Primary Industries, Regional Development and Forest Industries, Clare Scriven MLC


One billion sterile fruit flies have now been released over the Riverland to combat outbreaks in the region following a recent expansion at Port Augusta’s Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) facility.

Since September the facility has doubled its production rate of sterile Queensland fruit flies (Q-fly) from 20 million a week to 40 million a week. The facility has now produced one billion SIT flies since the program started in August 2022.

The program reduces the fruit fly population by mating the sterile flies with wild flies, resulting in no fertile offspring.

The $3 million expansion was funded under the Federal Government’s $30 million Building Resilience to Manage Fruit Fly package, with additional contributions from the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia (PIRSA) and Citrus SA.

The expansion included the addition of separate rooms for each stage of the fruit fly life cycle and resulted in the recruitment of eight new staff.

Fruit flies are one of the world’s worst horticultural pest, destroying fruit and vegetables in commercial crops, home gardens and impacting on trade access.

Currently there are 47 outbreaks in the Riverland and restrictions remain in place for existing outbreak and suspension areas.

In order to reduce the risk of future outbreaks, travelers heading into the Riverland or returning back from interstate trips during the summer holidays are being reminded to abide by the fruit fly restrictions or face a $414 fine.

Everyone needs to play a part in protecting the state from fruit fly so visit fruitfly.sa.gov.au for a full list of restricted fruit and vegetables. The website also has plenty of alternative and safe travel snacks to consider for summer journeys. Further information can also be obtained from the Fruit Fly Hotline 1300 666 010.

Quotes attributable to Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt:

This exciting milestone of one billion sterile flies being released highlights the success of the Port Augusta facility and its recent expansion, building on the years of hard work by the Department of Primary industries and Regions South Australia and their dedicated team in the Port Augusta facility.

Collaboration was key to the success of this work, made possible through the Federal Government’s Building Resilience to Manage Fruit Fly package (the package) in combination with co-contributions from the South Australian Government and Citrus SA.

I look forward to continuing to work closely with my South Australian counterparts on other initiatives under the package; including the recently announced post-harvest treatment facility in Adelaide, updating interstate trade protocols, roll out of electronic plant health certification and additional roadblock activities to protect the Riverland pest-free area.

Quotes attributable to South Australian Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Clare Scriven:

To reach this milestone is an incredible achievement and a vital step in the Riverland fruit fly eradication response.

The Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) facility at Port Augusta has gone from strength to strength since it was established in 2016 as the first purpose-built fruit fly facility in Australia, and it continues to be at the forefront of Australian research into sterile insect technology for Q-fly.

The Malinauskas Government is doing everything it can to eradicate the current outbreaks in the Riverland and remains committed to protecting our $1.45 billion horticulture industry from fruit fly.

Quotes attributable to Citrus SA Chair, Mark Doecke:

Citrus SA is happy to partner with the State Government to fund the Sterile Expansion for the benefit of all South Australians.

We thank the staff of the Port Augusta facility on the milestone of one billion flies. We see this facility as key to eradicating fruit fly in South Australia.