A portion of Los Angeles County has been placed under quarantine for the Oriental Fruit Fly (OFF) following the detection of 14 flies in the North Hills area of the San Fernando Valley. The quarantine zone measures 89 square miles, bordered on the north by the Angeles National Forest; on the south by the Ventura Freeway; on the west by Porter Ranch; and on the east by Hansen Dam Park. A link to the quarantine map may be found here.
California crops at risk include citrus, pome, stone fruits, dates, avocados, and many vegetables, particularly tomatoes and peppers. Residents who are living within the quarantine area are being urged not to move homegrown fruits and vegetables from their property. However, they may be consumed or processed (i.e., juiced, frozen, cooked or ground in the garbage disposal) on the property where they were picked or disposed of by double bagging and placing in the regular trash, not green waste. Growers, nurseries or other industry operations who may be located in or near the quarantine zone are encouraged follow regulatory practices set in place by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
While fruit flies and other invasive species that threaten California’s crops and natural environment are sometimes detected in agricultural areas, the vast majority are found in urban and suburban communities. The most common pathway for these pests to enter the state is by “hitchhiking” in fruits and vegetables brought back inadvertently by travelers as they return from infested regions of the world or from packages of home grown produce from other countries sent to California.
Following the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), agricultural officials use “male attractant” technique as the mainstay of the eradication effort for this invasive species. This approach has successfully eliminated dozens of fruit fly infestations in California. Trained workers squirt a small patch of fruit fly attractant mixed with a very small dose of an organic pesticide, Spinosad, approximately 8-10 feet off the ground on street trees and similar surfaces; male fruit flies are attracted to the mixture and perish after consuming it. The male attractant treatment program is being carried out over an area that extends 1.5 miles from each site where the oriental fruit flies were trapped.
The OFF is widespread throughout much of the mainland of southern Asia and neighboring islands, including Sri Lanka and Taiwan, and it is known to target over 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, which tunnel through the flesh of the fruit, making it unfit for consumption.
Federal, state and county agricultural officials work year-round to prevent, deter, detect and eliminate the threat of invasive species and diseases that can damage or destroy our agricultural products and natural environment. These efforts are aimed at keeping California’s natural environment and food supply plentiful, safe and pest-free.
If you have questions about the project, please call CDFA’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899. Additional information about the OFF may be found here: www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/off.