Local and state agriculture officials are investigating whether Oriental fruit flies are breeding in San Mateo County after a single fly was found in the city of San Carlos.
The Oriental fruit fly targets hundreds of fruit, vegetables and plants which is why officials are keen to identify and eradicate any local populations. The female flies lay eggs inside ripening fruit. The eggs hatch into maggots that eat through the fruit’s flesh and leave it inedible and unsellable.
Fred Crowder, the San Mateo County agricultural commissioner, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture announced jointly Monday they are conducting an extensive survey in response to the discovery of the single Oriental fruit fly. The survey will lay an extra 350 traps over roughly 81 square miles around the area where the fly was trapped.
“Early detection of these extremely damaging pests is critical to effective control and to minimize impacts to both the agricultural and urban communities,” Crowder said in a prepared statement.
Officials are also asking that residents don’t transport or mail fresh fruit, vegetables, plants or soil into California unless inspectors have first cleared the shipment as the flies can hide in a variety of produce.
The Oriental fruit fly is found in much of Southern Asia including neighboring islands like Sri Lanka and Taiwan and in Hawaii. The most common way the flies enter the state is through fruit and vegetables illegally brought back to California from infested global regions by travelers.
Locally, the flies target fruit and vegetables including apples, pears, plums, apricots, cucumbers, figs, loquats, oranges, peaches, persimmons, grapes, tomatoes and walnuts.
Residents with questions about the flies and the survey traps should contact the San Mateo County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office during weekday work hours at 363-4700 or the California Department of Food and Agriculture Pest Hotline at (800) 491-1899.