Traps set after oriental fruit found in South Bay

LOS ALTOS, Calif. (KGO) -- Bait traps are now in place in Santa Clara County to stop the spread of dangerous oriental fruit flies after two flies were discovered in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

In parts of the South Bay, crews are currently working to eradicate an infestation of oriental fruit flies before the situation gets any worse.

Los Altos resident Amy Franzblau got an unexpected visit from Santa Clara County agriculture officials.

"It's in our neighborhood, so it's something that we need to pay attention to," Franzblau said.

That something is the oriental fruit fly, which is the size of a regular house fly, and doesn't belong here.

"This fruit fly is such a problem because the female can sting a perfectly good piece of fruit and go right through the rind like a banana, and lay her eggs inside the fruit," said Michelle Thom the county's deputy agricultural commissioner.

This insect has been known to attack more than 230 kinds of fruits and vegetables. In fact, California constantly monitors various fruit flies for this reason.

Neighbors say the concern is real.

"I have a very old organic meyer lemon tree in my backyard that probably has about 200 lemons on it right now," Franzblauu said.

Experts believe an individual either brought over infested fruit from overseas, or, a fruit shipment came in and the oriental fruit flies weren't detected. Regardless, the focus is now on eliminating as many as possible. Crews are working to apply bait to trees.

"We squirt a little of the sexual pheromone of the fly, which brings the male to that spot, and then he ingests some of this, we lace it with a little insecticide, it falls to the ground," said John Deviney the county's agricultural commissioner.

The oriental fruit flies were also found last month in Cupertino. With a life cycle of about eight weeks, county officials say they won't know if the problem is completely eradicated until December. Until then, they'll continue to monitor traps and apply bait in areas deemed necessary.

"I'm really glad to hear that something is being done, it's important," Franzblau said.
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