State launches emergency treatment to eradicate Oriental fruit flies

The state of California on Friday declared emergency action against an invasive pest recently discovered in San Jose, the oriental fruit fly.

The oriental fruit fly, which originated in Asia and recently spread to the Pacific Islands, is considered a “significant threat” to both the natural ecosystem and the multi-billion dollar agricultural industry of state, the California Department of Food and Agriculture said.

Major crops in the state like avocados, apples and tomatoes are just some of the 230 types of fruits and vegetables the pest is known to infest. $19.3 billion in crops in the state are at risk from the fruit fly, the CDFA said.

Last month, CDFA found two sites in San Jose where Oriental fruit flies were present: one near South King Road and Enesco Avenue, and the other near Middle Park Drive and Oldfield Way.

The most common way for fruit flies to enter the state is by bringing fruits and vegetables home after traveling or receiving local produce in the mail.

“It would be disastrous for the oriental fruit fly to become established in Santa Clara County and California,” Santa Clara County Agriculture Commissioner Joe Deviney said in a statement. “We must all be vigilant in protecting our agricultural and natural resources. Please do not bring or ship any fruits, vegetables, or plants to California without confirming with agriculture officials that they are pest-free and permitted by law.”

The CDFA launched treatment within a 1.5-mile radius surrounding the San Jose sites on Saturday, and treatment will continue for the next few weeks. Crews will place bait, which contains an organic pesticide called spinosad, on street trees and utility poles.

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