Travelers Bound for California Alerted: Don’t Pack a Pest!
SACRAMENTO, July 21, 2009 – The California Department of Food and Agriculture has begun an eradication program for the Oriental fruit fly in La Verne in Los Angeles County.
Four Oriental fruit flies have been detected recently in traps in the area. The Oriental fruit fly is known to target over 230 different fruit, vegetable and plant commodities. Damage occurs when the female lays eggs inside the fruit. The eggs hatch into maggots that tunnel through the flesh of the fruit, making it unfit for consumption.
“Summer and fall are the most active seasons for fruit flies in our state,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “Now more than ever, we urge Californians who travel abroad not to bring back fruits, vegetables, seeds or other prohibited plant material. Every pest infestation we can prevent saves our state money, reduces pesticide use and protects our environment and food supply.”
Although fruit flies and other pests threaten California’s crops, the vast majority of the state’s infestations are detected in urban and suburban areas. The most common pathway for these pests to enter the state is by “hitchhiking” in fruits and vegetables brought back illegally by travelers as they return from infested regions around the world. The Oriental fruit fly is widespread through much of the mainland of Southern Asia and neighboring islands, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Taiwan, Philippine Islands, Ryukyu Islands, Micronesia and the Mariana Islands. It is also found in Hawaii.
Eradication of the Oriental fruit fly infestation relies upon a process known as “male attractant,” in which workers squirt a small patch of fly attractant mixed with a very small dose of pesticide approximately 8-10 feet off the ground to light poles, street trees and similar surfaces. Male flies are attracted to the mixture and die after consuming it.
The treatment is non-intrusive and has repeatedly proven successful over many years. Treatments will be repeated at two-week intervals for two life cycles beyond the last fly find, with a minimum of four applications.
A detailed map of the treatment area is available online at: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/pdep/treatment/maps/OFF_T_LAVERNE_09_072009.jpg
Residents with questions about the male attractant treatment program may call the department’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814