The California Department of Food and Agriculture is administering a treatment program for the Oriental fruit fly in the Westminster area of Orange County. This is the fourth treatment program for this pest underway in Southern California.

Two Oriental fruit flies were detected recently in the community. The treatment program will be carried out over approximately 18 square miles surrounding the sites where the insects were trapped. A map of the treatment area is available at: http://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 8-10 feet off the ground to light poles, street trees and similar surfaces.   Male flies are attracted to the mixture and die after consuming it.

 “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 move quickly and take action before the pests can cause widespread damage.”

The Oriental fruit fly is known to target 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 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.