August 1, 2009 in Nation/World

New fruit fly threat in S. California

Thousands of traps to fight second pest found in month
Associated Press
 

LOS ANGELES – An infestation of the white striped fruit fly has been found in Southern California, marking the first detection of the Southeast Asian agricultural pest in the Western Hemisphere, state authorities said Friday.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture said that starting today several thousand traps will be placed in 15 square miles of eastern Los Angeles County in the La Verne area, where seven of the flies were recently found in traps.

A local quarantine on the movement of fruit will be put in place after surveys determine the full extent of the problem.

How the fly arrived is not known, but the department’s mantra of “Don’t pack a pest” focuses on the likelihood that travelers bring them in on plants and foods that haven’t been inspected.

The discovery of the white striped fruit fly opens the latest front in California’s decades-long battles with non-native bugs that threaten its valuable agricultural products.

Earlier in July, the state detected a new infestation of the Oriental fruit fly in La Verne and began trapping for that pest.

The white striped fruit fly is an agricultural pest because females lay eggs inside fruit and the hatched maggots tunnel out, making the fruit unfit to eat.

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