Highly mobile and polyphagous pests, such as the Queensland Fruit Fly (Bactrocera tryoni, Qfly) are a major threat to agricultural systems worldwide. In order to minimize economic losses, farmers need to develop on-farm best-management practices (BMP), get engaged in area-wide management approaches (AWM) and need to get access to new technologies, such as the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). Ecological modelling can contribute its share in informing BMP’s or show what level of AWM adoption is needed for an effective suppression so that SIT can be cost effective.
In this project, we are focussed on QFly, one of the major horticultural pests in Australia. We use existing information about the biology and ecology of QFly and combine it with information about the phenology and distribution of their hosts to mimic fruit fly populations on a regional level. We can then implement different management strategies, varying levels of adoption and community engagement to look at management effectiveness. We can also look at what levels of AWM adoption are needed in a landscape to get a level of suppression that is low enough for SIT to be effective, and thus become a viable option for QFly treatment.
Our findings can be coupled with economic analyses about costs of the different management strategies and the benefits of a reduction in fly numbers. This will inform region specific guidelines and action plans and can help get people engaged in the idea of AWM.
Fighting highly mobile polyphagous pests through AWM is a complicated task that requires experts in entomology, biosecurity, economy and social science. Spatially explicit modelling is one tool to combine their existing knowledge, identify important gaps and get community groups involved.