News Release
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Media Contacts:
Jay Van Rein, CDFA
Steve Lyle, CDFA
Organic Compound Identified For Use in San Diego County Mexican Fruit Fly Infestation
Release #02-075
Naturalyte approved for use under national organic rules
SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Agriculture (CDFA) will soon commence an eradication program for the Mexican fruit fly in a 28-square mile area in northern San Diego County. The program will utilize the organic compound Naturalyte (active ingredient: spinosad), a naturally-occurring extract from bacteria. Naturalyte has received all necessary approvals from state and federal agencies for use as an organic treatment. The final administrative step—publication of its approval in the Federal Register—is anticipated shortly. There is a significant number of organic growers within the quarantine zone.

“Naturalyte is our weapon of choice in eradicating the Mexican fruit fly,” said CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. “CDFA worked with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to allow for the use of this product. The federal and state Environmental Protection Agencies have both accepted its use. Their cooperation streamlined the approval process.”

“This is a remarkable opportunity to perform large-scale eradication in compliance with organic regulations and philosophy,” said Brian Leahy, President of California Certified Organic Farmers. “I salute government and private industry for making this happen.”

Naturalyte treatments will work in conjunction with later releases of sterile Mexican fruit flies, which will breed any remaining wild flies out of existence. The first treatment is scheduled to be applied on January 7, 2003, weather permitting, beginning at 8 p.m. and continuing until approximately 4:30 a.m. the following morning. Additional treatments will be applied at 14-day intervals.

Three King Air fixed-wing, twin-engine, turbine-powered aircraft will be utilized to apply the treatments. Pilots will soon begin flying practice flights in both daylight and evening hours to familiarize themselves with local terrain in advance of the treatments.

Local residents will receive additional details about the eradication program via first-class mail beginning January 2, 2003.


The eradication program is a cooperative effort between CDFA, the United States Department of Agriculture and San Diego County. Further details will be discussed at a public meeting scheduled for January 4, 2003, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., at Valley Center Middle School, 28102 N. Lake Wohlford Rd.

A major Mexican fruit fly infestation was first detected in San Diego County on November 21. A quarantine was implemented on December 5. California Governor Gray Davis declared a state of emergency on December 18. To date, 228 adult flies and nine larval sites have been detected within the treatment area.

The Mexican fruit fly is native to southern and central Mexico. The fly attacks over 40 different kinds of fruits, including citrus and avocado. Damage occurs when the female fly lays eggs in the fruit. The eggs hatch into maggots which make the fruit unfit for human consumption.

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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814