[County CAO] – The latest local infestation of Oriental Fruit Fly, in the Santa Clarita Valley, is a reminder that fruits, vegetables, plants, and even some seeds need to be officially inspected and cleared before being brought or shipped into California. This is to prevent the introduction of exotic insect pests, plant diseases, and invasive weeds that pose a threat to home gardens and commercial agriculture.
Five specimens of the major agricultural pest were detected in five separate traps placed and serviced by the County of Los Angeles Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights and Measures (ACWM) around the Santa Clarita Valley. These detections were made on Tuesday, September 18, and Wednesday, September 19. As a result, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is conducting a program to eradicate OFF from Santa Clarita Valley. The species is known to target over 230 different fruit, vegetable and plant varieties. Mated females of the species deposit eggs into host fruits and vegetables and resulting maggots make the produce unfit for consumption.
A “male attractant” technique is being employed by CDFA to combat this pest. Presenting no inconvenience to the community, the process consists of squirting a small spot of bait onto streetside tree trunks.
Approximately 600 such “bait stations” are placed approximately eight to ten feet up on the trees in each square mile of the 16 square-mile eradication area. Male flies feed on the bait and are killed by the minute amount of pesticide in the bait. No aerial bait treatments are planned. CDFA conducted the first round of treatments on Friday, September 21, monitored by Pesticide Regulation inspectors from the ACWM Environmental Protection Bureau. CDFA will repeat treatments at two-week intervals for at least six sessions.
ACWM has an extensive Pest Detection program, including the placement and monitoring of over 32,000 detections traps around the County, to quickly alert authorities of the introduction of exotic insect pests.
ACWM also has a Pest Exclusion program which prevents many potential infestations of exotic insect pests, plant diseases, and invasive weeds through inspections at airports, shipping centers, and nurseries.
Whether a pest avoids these safeguards on its own, or hitches a ride with illegally smuggled items – whether the smuggler intended to smuggle or was simply unaware of the law – quick eradication of infestations is essential.
Residents can help by:
1) Not bringing back prohibited fruits, vegetables, other plants, or seeds when returning to California from a trip out of state. County of Los Angeles residents can call 562-622-0426 with questions about what is prohibited and what steps to take.
2) Discouraging family and friends outside of California from sending such things in the mail.
3) Reporting suspected finds of exotic insect pests at the CDFA Pest Hotline 1-800-491-1899.