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Medfly Spraying Begins After 3-Day Delay

March 9, 1987

HIALEAH, Fla. (AP) _ State officials sprayed insecticide over a 9-square-mile area Sunday after five Mediterranean fruit flies were found in an orange tree last week.

Helicopter spraying of the Malathion-laced insecticide had been postponed Thursday when the area was hit by high winds and rain.

Jack McCluskie of the Florida Department of Agriculture’s medfly eradication project said the state would spray once a week for three weeks, weather permitting.

State officials disclosed Saturday that they had found medfly larvae near the backyard tree where the five male flies were discovered.

″If there are females ... they could be in the position to lay a lot of eggs, and they lay 15 to 20 eggs a day,″ said Harold Denmark, an entomologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A large population of medflies, which bore holes into fruit and dump their eggs in the holes, could seriously threaten Florida’s $2 billion-a-year citrus industry.

Officials also have set 1,700 traps and stripped trees of fruit to prevent medflies from infecting more citrus. They also plan to release sterile medflies, which cut the population by mating because medflies mate only once.

The five male flies were caught during a routine inspection of a homeowner’s calamondin orange tree. No commercial citrus groves were thought to be affected.

Florida has had eight medfly infestations since 1929, including one in Miami two years ago.

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