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City’s West Side Takes Off The Wraps After Aerial Pesticide Spraying

October 8, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Residents removed wraps of plastic Friday from their cars but found little goo from an overnight aerial spraying of pesticide, the first step in an attack against the crop-threatening Mediterranean fruit fly.

Three helicopters dropped 1,400 gallons of the pesticide Malathion over a 35-square-mile area where about 100,000 people live, brightening the night sky with floodlights and causing commotion as they buzzed over houses.

″It was like Rambo,″ said resident Bill Kerwin. ″It was fun. I took pictures.″

William Edwards, chief deputy to the county agriculture commissioner, said the spraying was critical in eradicting the destructive Medfly. Officials also plan a quarantine of fruits and vegetables from leaving the area and the release of 40 million sterile Medflies to mate with the surviving Medflies to forestall breeding.

The fly threatens 250 varieties of fruits and vegetables and is considered a serious threat to California’s $15.5 billion farm economy.

Residents worried about the effect of the gooey spray on their health and cars had jammed a county spraying hot line with hundreds of calls, but police and county health officials reported no complaints Friday.

Citizens kept pets inside and covered cars or parked them inside garages and shopping malls to prepare for the five-hour attack, which ended 1:30 a.m. Friday.

The area sprayed included the cities of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood and two of the area’s most popular shopping districts, posh Rodeo Drive and trendy Melrose Avenue.

″There’s no smell. The bags looked clean,″ said Rick Aronson, manager of Paulee Auto Shop, which spent $500 on plastic bags to cover up its fleet of 180 high-priced autos.

Business tripled at the Beverly Hills Car Wash on La Cienega Boulevard and the Santa Palma ″Car Wash of the Stars″ on Santa Monica Boulevard.

County and state agricultural officials ordered the spraying after 48 Medflies were found in traps in the Palms area since Sept. 26. But the plan to spray the pesticide and corn syrup mixture worried residents.

Agriculture officials insisted the pesticide is harmless to humans, and said it should immediately begin killing Medflies who will feed on the sweetened potion that clings to produce, trees and bushes.

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