Researchers and state officials are still in the process of forming a coordinated response to the presence of black fig fly in California. The pest has appeared in Southern California in areas including Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. While no discoveries have been made thus far in the state’s primary fig growing areas, monitoring efforts have been prioritized.
“We want to start monitoring to fully delineate the extent of this outbreak. At the same time, we’d also like to start trialing some chemical controls,” said Houston Wilson, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside. “Most recently we were talking about setting up another effort to better characterize the developmental biology of the fig fly. We don’t have information right now on the minimum and maximum temperature thresholds that it can develop within, much less the degree-day requirements to complete its lifecycle.”
Information is being exchanged with regions that have dealt with the pest before, including areas of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The goal is to combine what is known with the pest with monitoring efforts to help answer questions as to how black fig fly can be managed in California. “Can a population even persist in the Central Valley given the differences in climate that we have there compared to these coastal and Southern California areas where it’s currently being found?” Wilson noted.
The movement of figs from areas known to have black fig fly infestations to areas of the Central Valley is being strongly discouraged. As management strategies continue to be developed, growers are encouraged to closely monitor their orchards. Any infestation, or suspected findings of the pest, should be brought to the attention of local authorities.
“If you think you have a suspected infestation of black fig fly you should reach out to your local farm advisor. You can reach out to the county agricultural commissioner’s office to report a suspected infestation as well. Then you can also contact CDFAs pest hotline,” Wilson explained. “If you talk to any one of those parties, we’ll probably bounce you around to each other to get all three groups aware of what’s going on and get somebody out there to look at the fly on your farm.”