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Oriental fruit flies found in Laguna Beach; infestation feared

July 11, 2012 | 10:19 am

Oriental fruit flies found in Laguna Beach
Oriental fruit flies have been detected in Laguna Beach, and the state will begin a treatment program this week, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Two flies were found between July 2 and July 5 in the city, within half a mile of each other, according to officials. Because of the timing and location, the state believes there is an infestation in the area.

The Oriental fruit fly, somewhat larger than a housefly and yellow in color with a "T" marking, is considered a serious pest in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and Hawaii.

Exotic fruit flies have cost Hawaii's local produce more than $300 million a year, according to the CDFA.

The female fly lays its eggs under the skin of fruit, rendering it unsuitable for eating. California crops such as citrus, dates, avocados, tomatoes and peppers could be in jeopardy, the CDFA said.

If the fly became established in California, the state estimates a potential loss of $44 million to $176 million in damages to crops. The state could also face quarantine restrictions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and international trade partners.

The "male attractant" treatment will be used, which will cover the 7.5 square miles surrounding the detection areas. The treatment consists of mixing attractant with pesticide, which lures male flies and kills them, the release said.

The method has been used since the 1970s in the state.

CDFA said that the most common reason for infestation is "hitchhiking" — when travelers bring back produce from foreign countries that are infested by the flies.


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Photo: The Oriental fruit fly. Credit: California Department of Food and Agriculture