The California Department of Food and Agriculture is preparing for a treatment program for the Oriental fruit fly in the Laguna Beach area of Orange County.

Two Oriental fruit flies were detected recently in the community. The treatment program will begin this week and will be carried out over approximately 7.5 square miles surrounding the sites where the insects were trapped. A map of the treatment area is available at: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/PDEP/treatment/maps/boundary/off/off_t_lagunabeach_12.pdf

CDFA uses “male attractant” treatment as the mainstay of its eradication measures for this pest.  This approach has successfully eliminated dozens of fruit fly infestations from California since the 1970s, including this recent infestation.  Workers squirt a small patch of fly attractant mixed with a minute amount of pesticide approximately 8-10 feet off the ground on street trees and similar surfaces.  Male flies are attracted to the mixture and perish after contact.

“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 ripening fruit. The eggs hatch into maggots and tunnel through the flesh of the fruit, making it inedible and unmarketable.

While fruit flies and other pests that threaten California’s crops and natural environment are sometimes detected in agricultural areas, the vast majority are found in urban and suburban communities.  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 found in much of Southern Asia, as well neighboring islands including Sri Lanka and Taiwan.  It is also present in Hawaii.