State wages war against oriental fruit fly

August 9, 2010 7:56:45 PM PDT
The attack is underway to prevent a devastating pest from damaging gardens and tearing through the state's fruit and vegetable industry.

Carl Boro grows vegetables at the Cesar Chavez Community Gardens in Milpitas. So far his crop is looking good but that could change. News that two oriental fruit flies were trapped there last week has raised concern.

"Not sure what effect this will be on my tomatoes, in fact I might not be able to share them with my friends," Boro said.

Or what effect a possible infestation could mean to the states multibillion dollar agriculture industry. The insect, which is no bigger than the head of a pin, spreads fast and multiplies even faster, which is why the county's response has been immediate. An eradication program started Monday.

"They are actually squirting some of the insecticide up to a dollar size spot up high, it attracts the males and then they die," Santa Clara Dept. of Agriculture spokesperson Kevin O'Day said.

Adult female fruit flies lay their eggs under the skin of fruits and vegetables. The eggs hatch, turn into maggots and spoil the produce.

The eradication treatment area covers roughly 11.5 miles bordering I-880 and I-680 and extending north to Bayview Drive in Fremont and south to Great Mall Parkway.

"The particular problem we see is insect reintroduction with goods coming ,trade passing through this area or shipped," O'Day said.

This is the fourth infestation in 10 years. The eradication program will continue off and on through October, which happens to also be prime picking season for local growers.


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