LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Agricultural officials knocked on residents’ doors near the Los Angeles Coliseum Friday asking residents for permission to confiscate backyard fruit from trees to help stop a fruit fly infestation.
KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports the effort was part of a California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) quarantine of the Mediterranean fruit fly.
About 100 officials and volunteers with the California Conservation Corps helped to remove fruit from an 88-square-mile quarantine area in central Los Angeles near the University of Southern California campus (PDF), bordered on the north by West Temple Street, on the south by East Imperial Highway, on the west by South La Cienega Boulevard, and to the east by Interstate 710, according to the CDFA.
Officials say the quarantine was launched after the discovery of one adult male Medfly and five unmated females in five traps between March 3-12, along with four larvae discovered in backyard fruit on March 18.
The Medfly – a short, squat fly about 1/4 inch in length – can infest more than 250 types of fruits and vegetables, causing severe impacts on California agricultural exports and backyard gardens alike, according the CDFA.
Agricultural teams confiscated oranges, avocados, tomatoes and other fruits from residences within 100 meters of Medfly detection areas in order to remove any fruit infested with eggs and larvae, officials said.
Max Regis with L.A. County’s Agricultural Commissioner Weights & Measures Department said properties within 200 meters of Medfly detections were being treated with an organic formulation of Spinosad, which originates from naturally-occurring bacteria, in order to eliminate any mated females and reduce the density of the population.
“We have found that there’s a localized infestation,” Regis said.
Officials said the release of sterile male Medflies began last week at a rate of 250,000 flies per square mile per week, double the normal rate in an area spanning approximately 25 square miles.
Officials say the quarantine was expected to affect any growers, wholesalers, and retailers of susceptible fruit in the area, as well as local residents. Home gardeners are urged to consume homegrown produce on site and not move it from their property to protect against the artificial spread of the infestation to nearby regions where it could affect California’s food supply and backyard gardens.
Residents who believe their fruits and vegetables are infested with fruit fly larvae are encouraged to call the state’s toll-free Pest Hotline at (800)491-1899.