SACRAMENTO — A quarantine has been declared due to a Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) infestation n Solano County. A total of four adult males and one unmated female have been detected. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Solano County Agricultural Commissioner, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) are working collaboratively on this project.
The 85-square mile quarantine is in and around the City of Fairfield. It is bordered on the north by Alamo Drive; on the south by Montezuma Slough; on the west by Suisun Valley Road; and on the east by Travis Air Force Base. Additional information and a link to the quarantine map may be found here: www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/
Sterile male Medflies are being released in the area as part of the eradication effort. The release rate will be 500,000 males per square mile per week in a 50 -square mile area around the infestation. In addition, properties within 200 meters of detection sites are being treated with an organic formulation of Spinosad, which originates from naturally-occurring bacteria, in order to remove any mated female Medflies and reduce the density of the population. Finally, fruit removal will occur within 100 meters of properties with larval detections and/or multiple-adult detections.
The quarantine will affect 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. These actions protect against the artificial spread of the infestation to nearby regions where it could affect California’s food supply and backyard gardens.
The sterile fly release program has a proven track record of success in California. Sterile male flies mate with fertile female flies in the natural environment but produce no offspring. The fly population decreases as the wild flies reach the end of their natural life span with no offspring to replace them, ultimately resulting in eradication of the pest. Sterile male Medflies are provided by the joint CDFA/USDA sterile insect rearing facility in Los Alamitos, which prepares sterile flies for release everyday over the Los Angeles Basin.
The Medfly is known to target more than 250 types of fruits and vegetables. Damage occurs when the female lays eggs inside the fruit. The eggs hatch into maggots and tunnel through the flesh of the fruit, making it unfit for consumption. 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 1-800-491-1899.
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 invasive species to enter our state is by “hitchhiking” in fruits and vegetables brought back illegally by travelers as they return from infested regions of the world. To help protect California’s agriculture and natural resources, CDFA urges travelers to follow the Don’t Pack a Pest program guidelines (www.dontpackapest.com).
—California Department of Food and Agriculture
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