The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has begun an eradication program for the Oriental fruit fly in La Verne in Los Angeles County after four Oriental fruit flies were detected in traps.

The Oriental fruit fly targets over 230 different fruits, vegetables, and plants. 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.

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.

“Summer and fall are the most active seasons for fruit flies in our state,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “Now more than ever, we urge Californians who travel abroad not to bring back fruits, vegetables, seeds or other prohibited plant material. Every pest infestation we can prevent saves our state money, reduces pesticide use, and protects our environment and food supply.”

Although fruit flies and other pests threaten California’s crops, the vast majority of the state’s infestations are detected in urban and suburban areas.

Eradication of the Oriental fruit fly infestation 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 light poles, street trees and similar surfaces. Male flies are attracted to the mixture and die when its consumed.

The treatment is non-intrusive and has repeatedly proven successful over many years. Treatments will be repeated at two-week intervals for two life cycles beyond the last fly find with a minimum of four applications.

The Oriental fruit fly is widespread through much of the mainland of Southern Asia and neighboring islands, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Taiwan, Philippine Islands, Ryukyu Islands, Micronesia, and the Mariana Islands. It is also found in Hawaii.