Project Leader, Organisation

Professor Ben White, University of Western Australia




This project examines communication and incentives for Medfly management in peri-urban areas. It will be run as a partnership between UWA and Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) and Dr Isabel Arevalo-Vigne (DPIRD). The project builds on research funded by the PBCRC on community-based fruit fly management (Isabel Arevalo-Vigne and Heleen Kruger) and on the approach to training design developed as part of PBCRC Project 4044 led by Cathy Robinson (CSIRO). Adaptive fruit fly management Kruger (2016) will be explored further in a peri-urban setting. The project will also draw on a recent project on behavioural and experimental economics applied to biosecurity management (White and Hurlstone, 2016) funded by Royalties for Regions).

Objectives and impact

The aim of this project is to test the effectiveness of a low-cost training and information treatment through a field experiment in the peri-urban South Serpentine Jarrahdale (SJ). The (SJ) treatment community will receive training and information updates and the control community (Dwellingup) will receive no additional fruit fly training or information. The treatment group will participate in a novel biosecurity game (already developed by White and Hurlstone) that demonstrates – through real monetary outcomes – the importance of cooperation and maintaining biosecurity effort. Training will provide low cost strategies for suppressing fruit fly: bait spraying, male annihilation technique (MAT), homemade lure and kill traps and clearing dropped fruit. Training strategies will be prioritised in consultation with the community and industry to improve decision making and community buy-in. Medfly numbers will be measured using Steiner traps for both groups.

A Facebook page will be set up that is exclusive to members of PHBG and the results of trapping reported back. The field experiment will last six months. Strategies from behavioural economics will be applied. Notably, reporting trapping results to the community will be used as a ‘nudge’ to increase biosecurity effort. The field experiment will be assessed in two ways: a comparison of Medfly numbers; and a survey of property owners to assess self-reported suppression methods applied to treatment and control groups.