On Wednesday Sept. 20, the California Department of Food and Agriculture is scheduled to begin an eradication program for the Oriental fruit fly in a 9-square mile area in Northridge, Los Angeles County. Last week, two fruit flies were detected in traps in the area.

The Oriental fruit fly is known to harm 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.

“Oriental fruit flies are a serious threat to the environment and agriculture,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “We must respond quickly to minimize risk whenever we detect a new infestation.”

Eradication relies upon a process known as “male annihilation,” in which workers squirt a small patch of a pheromone attractant mixed with a very small dose of pesticide to poles or trees, approximately 8 feet off the ground. The males are attracted to the pheromone as if to mate. They then consume the pesticide and die before they can mate. The treatment is non-intrusive and has repeatedly proven successful. Treatments will be repeated at two-week intervals for two life cycles beyond the last fly find, with a minimum of four applications. The treatment will not occur on private property and will focus instead on utility poles and publicly controlled trees.

The designated area of treatment is bordered by Saticoy Street to the south, Reseda Boulevard to the west, Gloria Avenue to the east, and the Devonshire Street to the north.

Oriental fruit flies were first found in California in 1960. A number of major infestations have successfully eradicated since then.