The California Department of Food and Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have eradicated an Oriental fruit fly infestation in the North Highlands area of Sacramento County.

“The Oriental fruit fly poses a serious threat to California farming and our backyard gardens as well,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “I would like to thank the residents of Sacramento County who helped us eradicate this infestation by complying with the quarantine and cooperating with our crews.”

A 79-square-mile quarantine was declared and an eradication effort began in July 2010 after a mated female Oriental fruit fly was detected in a trap.  The quarantine area also included a small portion (approximately two square miles) of southern Placer County.  The eradication program consisted of “male attractant” treatment, utilizing a minute amount of pesticide mixed with male fruit fly attractant and squirted in small quantities on trees. CDFA has been using this technique for more than 30 years and has a 100 percent success rate in California, never failing to eradicate an Oriental fruit fly infestation.

The quarantine area included several nurseries, outdoor produce markets and other businesses that were affected by restrictions on the movement of plants, crops and related materials.  Home gardeners were also asked to comply with quarantine measures by consuming homegrown produce at home and not sharing or sending it elsewhere.  These efforts protect growers and gardeners outside of the quarantine by helping to ensure that an infestation will not spread to nearby areas where it could affect California’s food supply.

While fruit flies and other pests threaten California’s crops, the vast majority of them 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 as they return 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.

The Oriental fruit fly is one of many pests that threaten agriculture, the environment, natural habitat and residential gardens in California. As personal travel and commercial shipments increase worldwide, the variety and frequency of pests breaching our border are also on the rise.  This pest can infest over 230 types of fruits and vegetables.

The quarantine and eradication have ended but the Sacramento County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, CDFA staff and federal agricultural officials continue to set and check traps for this and many other pests in the Sacramento area and throughout the state.  Discovering an infestation early, before it can spread over a large area or affect nearby crops, is a key component of a successful eradication effort.