Fruit fly hotline: Still no sightings

Oriental fruit fly

Keep crossing your fingers, farmers!

It’s looking like that nasty oriental fruit fly – a pesky harbinger of agricultural doom with the ability to infest more than 230 host plants from peaches to plums to peppers to cucumber – continues to be kept at bay.

Four flies were originally found in late July near the area of Tennant Avenue and Monterey Road in Morgan Hill, triggering an “infestation” determination along with heavy trapping and bait station applications. This process differs from a quarantine, wherein local crops cannot be moved. The California Secretary of Agriculture issued a proclamation July 27 declaring an emergency that authorized an eradication process.

After conducting its weekly trap servicing for the winged insect, the California Department of Food and Agriculture reports no additional fruit flies have been detected as of Wednesday.

Hopefully it stays that way for several more weeks. 

If officials find two additional fruit flies in the same area (as the initial discovery) before the current life cycle of the insect comes to an end in mid-September, a quarantine will be triggered.

Also this week, the Dept. of Food and Agriculture completed a second round of bait station applications to attract and kill the male fruit flies and interrupt the species’ reproduction. The next round of spot treatments will be Aug. 28. Subsequent applications will be made every two weeks through the end of the next life cycle sometime in late November.

About the Oriental Fruit Fly

The tiny flies – which are about the size of a pinhead and native to Southern Asia – burrow inside fruit, lay eggs and populate. If not eradicated, they threaten a multimillion dollar industry. The last county infestation in Milpitas caused major concern in 2010, and was fully eradicated in July 2011, according to the county.

Infestations have occurred in California over the last 30 years and have been successfully wiped out before any critical damage, according to County Agriculture Commissioner Kevin O’Day. The fruit fly is typically found in urban areas, he said, because they “hitchhike” on fruit that is from an infested area such as Hawaii or the Philippines.

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