The California Department of Food and Agriculture is preparing a quarantine and treatment program to eradicate an Oriental fruit fly (OFF) infestation in the Anaheim area of Orange County. The quarantine will also affect an adjacent portion of southern Los Angeles County.

“Our system to detect invasive species like the Oriental fruit fly is working well and according to design,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The key is to respond quickly and take action before the pests can cause widespread damage.”

Twelve Oriental fruit flies have been detected in the Anaheim area since Oct. 12. The treatment program will be carried out over approximately 10 square miles surrounding the sites where the insects were trapped.

A map of the treatment area is available at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/PDEP/treatment/treatment_maps.html

Treatment of the Oriental fruit fly primarily relies upon a process known as “male attractant” in which workers squirt a small patch of fly attractant mixed with a very small dose of pesticide approximately 8 to 10 feet off the ground to street trees and similar surfaces. Male flies are attracted to the mixture and die after consuming it.

On and near the properties where the flies were found, crews will also remove and dispose of host fruits and vegetables from yards and gardens and apply treatments to plants using the organic-approved substance spinosad.

Agricultural officials have increased the number of insect traps in the region to help determine the extent of the infestation. Once that work has been completed, a quarantine boundary will be set and a map posted online.

With the infestation in Anaheim, California now has seven active OFF eradication projects underway. 

The others include two in Los Angeles County (the San Gabriel/Alhambra area and the Baldwin Park area); two in Orange County (the Anaheim/Yorba Linda area and the Santa Ana/Westminster area); one in San Joaquin County in the Stockton area where a quarantine was declared on Sept. 21; and one in the Pleasanton area of Alameda County where two OFF adults were recently detected in traps.

To prevent the spread of fruit flies through homegrown fruits and vegetables, residents of fruit fly quarantine areas are urged not to move any fruits or vegetables from their property. Fruits and vegetables may be consumed or processed (i.e. juiced, frozen, cooked, or ground in the garbage disposal) at the property where they are picked.

To help prevent infestations, officials ask that residents do not bring or mail fresh fruit, vegetables, plants or soil into California unless agricultural inspectors have cleared the shipment before hand, as fruit flies and other pests can hide in a variety of produce.

It is important to cooperate with any quarantine restrictions and to allow authorized agricultural workers access to your property to inspect fruit and Oriental fruit fly traps for signs of an infestation.

The Oriental fruit fly targets over 230 different fruit, vegetable, and plant commodities.

Damage occurs when the female lays eggs inside the fruit. The eggs hatch into maggots that tunnel through the flesh of the fruit making it unfit for consumption.

While fruit flies and other pests threaten California’s crops, the vast majority are detected in urban and suburban areas. The most common pathway for these pests to enter the state is by ‘hitchhiking’ in fruits and vegetables brought back illegally by travelers returning from infested regions around the world.

The Oriental fruit fly is widespread throughout much of the mainland of Southern Asia and neighboring islands including Sri Lanka and Taiwan. It is also found in Hawaii.