Mexican fruit fly quarantine in portion of Los Angeles County

- A portion of Los Angeles County, including the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, has been placed under quarantine for the Mexican fruit fly following the detection of three flies, including two mated females, within the city of Long Beach, officials announced Wednesday.

Mated females are significant because they indicate a breeding population. California Department of Food and Agriculture officials are working with their counterparts in L.A. County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The quarantine area measures 79 square miles, bordered on the north by the 91 Freeway; on the south by the Pacific Ocean; on the west by the 110 Freeway; and on the east by Palo Verde Avenue.  A link to the quarantine map can be found at www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/mexfly/regulation.html.

Sterile male Mexican fruit flies will be released in the area as part of the eradication effort. The release rate will be approximately 325,000 sterile males per square mile per week in an area up to 50 square miles around the infestation.

The Mexican fruit fly population decreases as the wild flies reach the end of their natural life span with no offspring to replace them, ultimately resulting in the eradication of the pest. In addition, properties within 200 meters of detection sites are being treated with an organic formulation of Spinosad, which originates from naturally occurring bacteria, in order to remove any mated female fruit flies and reduce the density of the population.  Finally, fruit removal will occur within 100 meters of properties with larval detections and/or mated female detections.

The quarantine affects any growers, wholesalers, and retailers of susceptible fruit in the area as well as nurseries that grow and sell Mexican fruit fly host plants. Those businesses are all required to take steps to protect against the spread of the pest. At the Long Beach/Los Angeles ports, exports as well as imports may be impacted depending on specific circumstances. The quarantine will also affect local residents growing host commodities on their property. Movement of those commodities is not permitted. Residents are urged to consume homegrown produce on site. These actions protect against the spread of the infestation to nearby regions where it could affect California's food supply as well as backyard gardens and landscapes.

The Mexican fruit fly can infest more than 50 types of fruits and vegetables. Residents who believe their fruits and vegetables may be infested with fruit fly larvae are encouraged to call the state's toll-free Pest Hotline at (800) 491-1899.

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