Effort underway to stop guava fruit fly in San Jose

July 15, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
An effort is underway in the Bay Area to stop a tiny pest with the potential to do huge damage. It threatens to devastate California's multi-billion dollar fruit industry. Three guava fruit flies were found near Downtown San Jose. Only three were found, but that could become three million if they don't stop them.

County agricultural inspectors say a guava fruit fly, native to India and Pakistan, was possibly brought to Santa Clara County by some unsuspecting traveler. Now an emergency eradication team will gather at the Rancho Del Pueblo Golf Course on Wednesday in order to protect the states fruit industry.

Maria Marquez told us state agricultural inspectors asked if they could place these guava fruit fly traps in her peach tree on McCreery Avenue and East San Antonio Street where one of the flies was discovered.

They are just two of the hundreds of traps that were scattered along a 19-square-mile area of East San Jose after the three flies were found between July 3 and July 5.

County agricultural commissioner Joseph Deviney says the guava fruit fly could be devastating to California's $43 billion fruit industry.

"It's a tropical fly. It has a huge reproductive potential, many life cycles per year. We don't really have a winter that would kill it," said Deviney.

The female fly lays its eggs in the kind of fruit we found scattered throughout the Mayfair District: plums, peaches, apricots, lemons and oranges. All of those fruits are hosts to the fly.

The traps tell inspectors where the flies are, but the next step is a sticky substance with pheromones, that attracts and kills the male fly, is sprayed on trees and poles in affected areas.

For resident and parent Sharon Song, it's a lot safer than an insecticide. She said, "We don't want them to spray these pesticides you know were growing our own stuff."

Deviney says this fly has been eliminated every time it has shown up in the past. Spraying of the pheromone throughout East San Jose will begin Wednesday morning.