U.S. authorities have established a Mexican fruit fly quarantine in a portion of Los Angeles County following the detection of three insects.
The control area measures 79 square miles and includes the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) said the detections were made within the City of Long Beach and included two mated females.
“Mated females are significant because they indicate a breeding population that increases the risk of spread of this pest,” said the CDFA.
As an eradication effort, 325,000 sterile males Mexican fruit flies will be released in the area, which will mate with fertile female flies in the natural environment producing no offspring.
The Mexican fruit fly population should decrease as the wild flies reach the end of their natural lifespan with no offspring to replace them, ultimately resulting in the eradication of the pest.
Additionally, 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.
As a final eradication effort fruit removal will occur within 100 meters of properties with larval detections and/or mated female detections, as the Mexican fruit fly can infest more than 50 types of fruits and vegetables.
The quarantine affects 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”, said the CDFA.