FRUIT flies have destroyed thousands of backyard fruit and vegetable crops across Victoria this summer.
Some growers say the State Government's decision not to declare the devastating Queensland Fruit Fly endemic has been largely a political move to keep export markets open.
Little is being done to eradicate the pest, which has quickly spread across the state.
Growers are paying most of the cost to fight fruit flies, particularly in the export-sensitive Sunraysia region where they pay 70 per cent of the eradication and education costs.
There are declared fruit fly outbreak areas around Mildura, Boundary Bend, Yungera, Haysdale, Swan Hill and Barham, as well as infestations around Echuca, Shepparton, Benalla, Wangaratta and Wodonga.
Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said the state had not "given up" on controlling fruit fly although the focus is on eradication in Sunraysia and "management and control" in other areas.
Backyard gardeners in areas such as Echuca who have never seen fruit flies before this year are being left to battle alone.
"The DPI told me they don't have the funding to do anything about it," Campaspe Shire mayor Ian Maddison said.
"They tell me fruit flies are just something we are going to have to get used to in Victoria."
Fruit Growers Victoria general manager John Wilson said two wet years after the drought had caused hundreds of fruit fly outbreaks across the state.
"The bureaucrats have given up on it now, it's too hard," Mr Wilson said. He said most fruit fly outbreaks had been domestic while industry was left to do most of the clean-up work.
Echuca Mitre 10 garden manager Susie Eddy said fruit fly had "wiped out" almost all fruit in the region.
"Everyone has got it because the government is not treating them any more," Ms Eddy said. "People were devastated to pick their fruit (and find it) full of maggots. It's never been here before."