STERILE MEXICAN FRUIT FLY RELEASES TO BEGIN THURSDAY, JUNE 12
VALLEY CENTER – Efforts to eradicate a Mexican fruit fly infestation in the northern San Diego County community of Valley Center have progressed successfully to date, allowing officials to cease aerial treatments of the approved organic pesticide Naturalyte and begin releasing sterile Mexican fruit flies.
The first round of sterile releases will begin on Thursday, June 12, 2003, with subsequent releases every week. Approximately 28 million sterile flies will be released each week over the 28-square-mile eradication zone (one million per square mile).
“With this transition to the sterile release program, we are taking an important step toward eradicating this infestation,” said CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. “I’d like to thank the community for their cooperation on a successful aerial treatment program. As a farmer, I understand the hardship that comes with a quarantine. We are pleased with our progress, and we remain committed to eradicating this infestation as quickly as possible.”
Pesticide applications and sterile fly releases have been used successfully in tandem to eradicate past fruit fly infestations in California. Once a series of pesticide treatments substantially reduces an infestation, sterile male flies are released to ensure that any fertile female flies still in the area will be unable to find a wild mate.
The Valley Center infestation was detected on November 21, 2002. 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.
Jay Van Rein
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814