Authorities warn of imminent fruit fly epidemic

The agriculture ministry has warned of an imminent fruit fly epidemic that could contaminate fruits grown in the Maldives.

Fruit flies have been found in mangoes and water apples from the island of Feevah in Shaviyani atoll, the ministry revealed today.

“On some occasions, 90 to 100 percent of the harvest has been destroyed because of fruit flies,” said the agricultural ministry.

“Therefore, it is necessary to contain the fruit flies from Feevah and prevent it from spreading to other agricultural islands.”

Agriculture contributes to around six percent of GDP. However, some islands rely solely on income from farming.

A fruit fly epidemic could cause widespread damage to the local agricultural industry, the ministry said, and advised exercising caution before consuming fruits from Feevah.

While fruit flies do not cause any harm to humans even if contaminated fruits are consumed, the ministry advised soaking fruits from Feevah in warm water for 60 minutes to prevent the flies from spreading.

The ministry explained that the “oriental fruit flies” found on Feevah poses a threat to all types of fruits and vegetables, including mangoes, watermelons, peaches and tomatoes.

Fruit flies lay their eggs inside the fruits and vegetables by injecting its spine. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae eats the fruit from the inside out.

Contaminated fruits will appear over-ripe with large black spots. Holes will also be visible on the surface of the contaminated fruit.

The ministry also urged the public to report any signs of fruit flies in agricultural products.