State of California Takes Emergency Action to Eradicate Oriental Fruit Flies Found in San José

Treatment will begin on Saturday, Sept. 3, as agriculture officials remind the public not to bring fruits or vegetables into California that could contain the invasive pest, which threatens the state’s multibillion-dollar agriculture industry.


SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is launching emergency action to eradicate oriental fruit flies found in the City of San José, declaring the insects a significant threat to the natural environment, agriculture and economy of California.

The treatment begins on Saturday, Sept. 3, in the areas surrounding two sites in San José where oriental fruit flies were trapped last month. The treatment, used many times over the years to eradicate infestations in California, is safe for the public and will take place over the next several weeks.
 
The oriental fruit fly is native to Asia and has spread to multiple Pacific Islands, including Hawaii. It is known to infest more than 230 types of fruits and vegetables, including such valuable California crops as avocados, apples, stone and citrus fruits, tomatoes, and peppers. The 2020 value of California crops threatened by the fruit fly was $19.3 billion, according to the CDFA.
 
The most common ways for the fruit fly to enter California are when people illegally bring fruits and vegetables back from their travels or receive packages of homegrown produce through the mail. County of Santa Clara Agricultural Commissioner Joe Deviney said it’s critical for county residents to follow federal and state laws governing what they are allowed to bring home when traveling.
 
“It would be disastrous for the oriental fruit fly to get established in Santa Clara County and California,” Deviney said. “We all need to be vigilant in protecting our agricultural and natural resources. Please do not bring or ship any fruits, vegetables, or plants into California without confirming with agriculture officials that they are free of pests and permitted by law.”

CDFA will seek to eradicate the fruit flies by applying bait high on street trees, utility poles and other surfaces within a roughly 1.5-mile radius of the spots where the flies were discovered. The bait contains a natural compound called methyl eugenol, which attracts the flies, and an organic pesticide known as spinosad, which kills them. The small splotches of bait are applied eight to 10 feet off the ground using a pressurized gun.

Oriental fruit flies

 
Oriental fruit flies are larger than common houseflies. They lay eggs under the skin of host fruits. When the eggs hatch into larvae, they tunnel through the flesh of the fruit, making it unfit for human consumption.

Because the larvae can remain hidden within the fruit for up to 10 days, they can “hitchhike” into California undetected. That’s why it’s important for the public to remember not to pack any pests when traveling or mailing packages. Visit the Don’t Pack a Pest website for more information. If you have any questions about what items are permitted to bring into California, or if you come across produce that looks like it may be infested, contact the County of Santa Clara Division of Agriculture at [email protected] or 408-918-4600.

Federal, State and County agricultural officials work 365 days a year to protect our food supply and prevent, detect, and eliminate the threat of invasive species and diseases that can damage our agricultural products and natural environment.

Map of treatment area for oriental fruit fly

 

ABOUT THE COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multicultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, Calif., making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.
 

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Media Contact:  Quan Vu/Aaron Kinney, Office of Communications and Public Affairs, [email protected], (408) 299-5119

Posted: September 2, 2022

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