Fruit Fly Scare in New Zealand Cost Taxpayers $1M

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | March 25, 2014 4:18 PM EST

The campaign to establish if the male fruit fly that scared New Zealand in January was part of a breeding population has cost taxpayers a whopping $1 million.

The biosecurity operation triggered by a single male Queensland fruit fly in the suburb of Parihaka cost over $916,000, broken down as follows:

$733,536 on service contracts

$67,162 on publicity

$82,716 on staff overtime

$33,000 on staff travel, accommodation and expenses

A fruit fly is a small fly that feeds on fruit in both its adult and larval stages. These tiny nuisances, which can get in through window screens or crevices around windows or doors, can quickly multiply in number and be tough to get rid of once they're around.

These bugs can be found all over the world, and they live in many different climates, according to WiseGeek. "Warm, tropical climates host more kinds, however, because they tend to promote a sufficient supply of vegetation while also making it easy for organic matter to decay. They usually can spread very quickly from area to area, because most species are excellent fliers that are capable of traveling several miles in a single day."

Locals in New Zealand were banned from transporting fruit and some vegetables within a defined area as authorities zealously worked for two weeks to combat possible breeding complications.

Horticulture New Zealand said the country's $4 billion industry food exports could get banned by international markets if the fly becomes established.

Nathan Guy, Primary Industries minister, said authorities at the time of the campaign responded "rapidly, professional and thorough."

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