A guava fruit fly eradication program has begun in a nine-square-mile area including Calabasas and Agoura Hills following the discovery of two guava fruit flies.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is treating the area using the proven “male attractant” technique in which a mixture of a fruit fly lure and a small amount of pesticide are applied in small blotches to street trees, light poles and similar surfaces. These “bait stations” mimic a chemical mating signal emitted by female flies. The male flies are attracted to the signal and are killed after landing on the bait station. The infestation is eradicated when the female flies go unmated and no offspring are produced. The treatments are repeated every two weeks for up to two of the fly’s life cycles. Most eradication projects are completed in two to three months if no additional flies are detected.

A map of the eradication area is available online at: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/PDEP/treatment/maps/GFF_T_CALABASAS_09_081709.pdf.

The guava fruit fly, established in Southeast Asia, is a serious agricultural pest that can damage a wide variety of tree fruits. The eradication project is designed to protect the state’s backyard and farm trees including guava, apple, fig, orange, papaya, peach and pomegranate. The pest substantially limits agricultural production in countries such as Pakistan, India and Thailand. Further information about this pest is available online at: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/pdep/target_pest_disease_profiles/guava_fruit_fly_profile.html.

While an agricultural quarantine is not being imposed at this time, residents of the area are urged not to move backyard fruit from their property. Residents are also urged to call our toll-free pest hotline, 800-491-1899, to report suspect pests such as fruit fly larvae (maggots) inside fruit.

Most fruit fly infestations in California are likely caused when international travelers return with infested fruit, or when mail or parcel packages containing infested fruit are illegally shipped into the state. The vast majority of pest infestations in California occur not on farms, but in our urban and suburban residential areas. Consumers are encouraged to refrain from transporting or mailing fruit or other agricultural products into the United States and California.

Federal, state and county agriculture officials work year-round to prevent, deter and eliminate the threat of pests and diseases that can damage or destroy food and agricultural products. The efforts are aimed at keeping the state’s food supply plentiful, safe and pest-free.