Sacramento, California - A portion of Los Angeles County has been placed under quarantine for the Malaysian fruit fly (Bactrocera latifrons) following the detection of two adult female fruit flies in one trap in the Westchester area. This is the first quarantine for this pest in the history of the continental United States. The USDA, the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner, and CDFA are working collaboratively with residents on this project.
The quarantine area in Los Angeles County measures 74 square miles, bordered on the north by Venice Boulevard; on the south by W Rosecrans Avenue; on the west by the ocean; and on the east by S Normandie Avenue. A link to the quarantine map may be found here: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/maff/regulation.html
Residents living in the quarantine area are urged to help prevent the spread of the Malaysian fruit fly by not moving homegrown fruits and vegetables from their property. Instead, they may be consumed or processed (i.e. juiced, frozen, cooked, or ground in the garbage disposal) on the property where they were picked. These actions protect against the artificial spread of the infestation to nearby neighborhoods where it could affect California’s food supply and our backyard gardens and landscapes.
The Malaysian fruit fly is known to target over 59 different fruit, vegetable, and plant commodities. Important California crops at risk include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, eggplants, guavas, and pomegranates. The combined 2013 value of these commodities was over $2 billion. 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.
To eradicate the infestation, properties within 200 meters of the detection are being treated with fruit fly food bait mixed with an organic formulation of Spinosad, which originates from naturally-occurring bacteria found in soil. Spinosad is approved for use in organic agriculture and is safe for humans, livestock and pets. Flies are attracted to the food bait and parish after consuming it. Additionally, fruit removal will occur within 100 meters of the detection property in order to remove any fruit infested with eggs and larvae.
The Malaysian fruit fly is yet another example of invasive species moved by increased international trade and travel. This is the first quarantine in the continental United States of America for the Malaysian fruit fly; in 1998 a single Malaysian fruit fly was detected in California, but did not trigger a quarantine.
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 around the world, or from packages of home grown produce sent to California. The vast majority of invasive species infestations in California occur not on farms, but in our urban and suburban residential areas. Consumers are urged not to transport or mail fruit or other agricultural products into the United States of America and California. Please help us protect our agricultural production, backyard gardens and landscapes, and our natural environment from invasive species, please don’t pack a pest - www.dontpackapest.com.
Federal, state and county agricultural officials work year-round, 365 days a year, to prevent, deter, detect, and eliminate the threat of invasive species and diseases that can damage or destroy our agricultural products and natural environment. The efforts are aimed at keeping California’s natural environment and food supply plentiful, safe and pest-free. Further information about this invasive species may be found here: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/maff/regulation.html