Friday, March 1, 2024

Pest Control

California Legislature introduces bill to combat invasive fruit fly threat

The ongoing havoc caused by the Oriental fruit fly in Redlands has prompted new state legislation to address the issue.

On Feb. 15 Assemblymember Eloise Reyes introduced a bill in response to the threat of the invasive species, specifically targeting the prevention and suppression of their spread within California.

The bill addresses the economic damage that the fruit fly has caused to the state's natural landscapes, other insects, agriculture, economy and public health, and outlines strategies as to how the state can implement strategies for detecting, controlling, monitoring and eradicating insects to safeguard California's agriculture, environment and natural resources.

Recognizing the Inland Empire and surrounding communities’ ties to the citrus industry, Reyes stated “It’s critical that we bring attention to the impacts invasive species have on our shared environment and ensure we are implementing long-term strategies to protect our local economy.”

In late January, the CDFA dispatched teams to begin a large-scale fruit removal operation for more than 2,000 residences in San Bernardino County.

Since the quarantine was imposed in September 2023, commercial citrus growers have lost hundreds of thousands in revenues.

Fruit removal areas across Redlands range from a northern boundary of E. Highland Avenue to the southern edge nearly reaching Live Oak Canyon Road.

A western boundary begins at Garden Street to the east border of Alta Vista Drive.

Areas that encompass that quarantine are restricted from the commercial or residential selling or distribution of fruit to break the hold of the fly’s life cycle that infects groves.

Treatment from CDFA teams have already begun surveying properties to check for possible infection, setting traps and purging all fruit, not only those that are compromised. Officials conducting these services will have a badge indicating affiliation with the department and will never ask to enter a resident’s home.

Residential properties receive a 48-hour notice before scheduling a visit for treatment and host fruit removal.

Scheduled visits involve the CDFA staff identifying the fruit to be purged from trees for disposal. Teams will clean residual debris, including dropped fruit.

Traps involve establishing bait stations with pesticides designed to draw and kill male flies to slow proliferation.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), female flies lay eggs in clusters ranging from three to thirty under the skin of host fruits.

After 10 days, larvae emerge by tunneling through the host.

Flies reach full maturity in 10 to 12 days and have an average lifespan of 90 days.

Pests have been reported to travel as far as 30 miles in search of food.

The city is negotiating with a local juicer to utilize its citrus crops. Carl Baker, the city’s public information officer, states, “We anticipate full cost recovery for the cost of picking the trees, which is necessary for us to have marketable fruit next year.”

Furthermore, Baker notes the progress made in sending three navel groves’ produce to the traditional market, thanks to the CDFA-approved treatment schedule, and efforts are underway to harvest a grapefruit grove within the next couple of weeks.

Addressing concerns about fallen fruit potentially attracting the Oriental fruit fly, the city is collaborating with its farming contractor to plan for managing the fruit on the ground in the groves designated for juicing.

The risk of not taking proactive steps to combat the bug’s influence could be substantial. San Bernardino County forecasts a more urgent warning saying, “If left unchecked, the Oriental fruit fly could become permanently established and cause billions of dollars worth of losses annually, which would significantly impact California’s food supply.”

Property owners who suspect that they have infected fruit are requested to call CDFA’s hotline at 1-800-491-1899.

Source: Redlands Community News