Arizona Department of Agriculture Director Sheldon R. Jones says the department has recently increased its Mediterranean fruit fly survey detection efforts.

The addition of more traps to survey for the Mediterranean fruit fly is a precautionary response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's December recall of Clementine oranges imported from Spain. At the time of the recall, some of the imported fruit had been in the U.S. market for some time. Damaged or spoiled fruit may have been discarded by grocers or thrown away by homeowners, prior to the recall, in areas where the larvae could have matured.

The traps are being placed both in public area fruit trees as well as in those readily accessible in the front yards of homeowners. The white “sticky” traps, are oblong-triangular shaped and are each baited with the Mediterranean fruit fly's specific insect sex attractant.

The Mediterranean fruit fly, along with numerous other exotic fruit fly species, has a wide host range and is considered one of the world's most devastating agricultural insect pests. Establishment of this pest in Arizona would have a negative impact on interstate and international trade. The department's trapping efforts involves the placement of several thousand fruit fly traps in “host” fruit trees around Arizona, particularly in the Phoenix, Yuma, Nogales and Tucson metropolitan areas. These traps are in addition to those that the Department of Agriculture regularly maintains in order to protect Arizona's valuable citrus industry from dangerous pests.

Intensive monitoring with additional traps across the state will be continued until approximately June to insure that Mediterranean fruit fly populations have not been introduced into Arizona. Homeowners with questions may contact the Arizona Department of Agriculture at (602) 542-3301 or (602) 542-0981.