An expert believes a pile of fruit left to rot in the middle of Shepparton East’s orchard country has signs of fruit fly infestation.
The piles of rotting pears, stretching almost 10m, are causing a stink on the side of Lataris Rd, Shepparton East, on the corner of Channel Rd.
Goulburn Murray Valley regional fruit fly co-ordinator Ross Abberfield said the fruit could have been left at the site as early as November, posing a serious economic threat to nearby growers.
It is believed the fruit was recently dumped and good fruit, deeper in the pile, could act as a larvae host.
Mr Abberfield said the pears showed signs of fruit fly activity, due to evident larvae exit markings.
‘‘The flies are prolific breeders and, if they get a foothold here, this is potentially a breeding ground that can infect and spread right through this whole area if it’s not controlled,’’ he said.
‘‘If this starts to infest these nearby crops, it means the growers have to spend a lot more money to control it, which means their profit margins are down.’’
The dumping of fruit is fiercely frowned on in the horticultural community and producers found to be operating unlawfully may be liable for prosecution.
A female fly can lay up to 2000 eggs at a time, which can then go on to reproduce in less than four weeks.
A nearby grower, who did not want to be named, said producers in the area were concerned about the pile and hoped authorities would intervene promptly.
‘‘I don’t want to get involved because I know who the culprit is and I hope someone gets on to this, cleans it up and sends out a bill for it too,’’ he said.
‘‘You’re trying your best to keep everything out and then this sort of thing happens. We just want to get back to what we’re doing.’’
Mr Abberfield said there had been a campaign locally to spread awareness about fruit fly control and the community had responded positively up until the find.
‘‘It seems that this is deliberate, almost malicious, and it’s extraordinary because it normally doesn’t happen,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s clearly been dumped here by a grower, and it’s a sign that an individual isn’t taking the warnings around fruit fly seriously, but it is in no way reflective of the industry.’’