Oriental Fruit Fly Quarantine in Portions of L. A. County

Taylor HillmanGeneral

Following the detection of several Oriental fruit fly adults and larvae in recent weeks, agricultural officials have established quarantine zones in two portions of Los Angeles County, the first quarantine zone in and around the city of Inglewood, the unincorporated area of Ladera Heights, and the Westchester area of Los Angeles, and the second in and around the city of Covina.

The quarantine zone in the Inglewood and Los Angeles area measures 134 square miles and the quarantine zone in the Covina area measures 75 square miles.  A link to the quarantine map may be found here: www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/go/offq.

“Late summer and fall are ‘fruit fly season’ in California,” said California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross. “These pests like Southern California for some of the same reasons other travelers do – the pleasant climate and the tremendous variety of food, for example. Fortunately, we have a great track record of eradicating these infestations with the help of residents in the affected communities.”

To prevent the spread of fruit flies through homegrown fruits and vegetables, residents living in the fruit fly quarantine areas are urged not to move any fruits or vegetables from their property.  Produce may be consumed or processed (i.e. juiced, frozen, cooked, or ground in the garbage disposal) at the property where it was picked.

To help prevent infestations, officials ask that residents who are traveling do not bring or mail fresh fruit, vegetables, plants, or soil into California unless agricultural inspectors have cleared the shipment beforehand, as fruit flies and other pests can hide in a variety of commodities.  While fruit flies and other invasive species threaten California’s crops, the vast majority of them 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 or from packages sent to California.  That’s why it’s important for residents to cooperate with any quarantine restrictions and to allow authorized agricultural workers access to your property to inspect fruit and Oriental fruit fly traps for signs of an infestation.

Following the principles of integrated pest management (IPM), California Department of Food and Agriculture uses “male attractant” technique as the mainstay of its eradication effort for this pest.  This approach has successfully eliminated dozens of fruit fly infestations from California, significantly reduces the amount of insecticide required to eradicate the population, and only targets the fruit flies – no other insects or animals are harmed by this technique.  Trained workers squirt a small patch of fly attractant mixed with a very small dose of pesticide approximately 8 to 10 feet off the ground on street trees and similar surfaces; male fruit flies are attracted to the mixture and die after consuming it.

The male attractant treatment program is being carried out over several square miles surrounding the sites where the Oriental fruit flies were trapped.  A map of the treatment area may be found here:  www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/go/ffmaps-peps.

On or near properties where fruit flies have been detected, additional response measures include fruit cutting to detect any fly larvae that may be present, treatment of host trees and plants with the organic-approved material spinosad, and removal of host fruit.

The Oriental fruit fly is known to target more than 230 different fruit, vegetable, and plant commodities.  Damage occurs when the female fruit fly lays her eggs inside the fruit.  The eggs hatch into maggots and tunnel through the flesh of the fruit, making it unfit for consumption.

The Oriental fruit fly is widespread throughout much of the mainland of southern Asia and neighboring islands including Sri Lanka and Taiwan, and has invaded other areas, most notably Africa and Hawaii.

Residents with questions about the project may call the department’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.