Single Medfly Found; No Large-Scale Infestation Seen
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) _ A lone Mediterranean fruit fly was found at a home near this Gulf Coast city, leading officials to intensify the medfly detection program in the 81 square miles surrounding the residence.
The unmated female, found last week in a trap in Indian Rocks Beach just south of here, may represent an isolated case rather than a large-scale infestation that would threaten the citrus industry, according to state agriculture officials.
The pesky, prolific medfly destroys fruits and vegetables by depositing its larvae inside them. Neither the medfly nor the larvae is harmful to humans.
For the next 90 days state and federal officials will cut and examine fruit in the area for medfly larvae and place and check more medfly traps daily, Maeve McConnell, a spokeswoman with the state’s Division of Plant Industry, said Saturday.
If more medflys are found, the state would likely begin an eradication program that includes aerial spraying and the release of sterile male fruit flys, Ms. McConnell said.
″At this point we have a single fly introduction rather than an infestation,″ Sal Alfieri Jr., director of the Division of Plant Industry, said in a statement.
Last year a medfly infestation in the Miami area was overcome in about five months with a combination of aerial spraying and the release of millions of sterile male medflys.
There have been six instances of a single medfly being trapped in Florida since 1964, said Agriculture Commissioner Doyle Conner.
″We have a statewide network of traps which are regularly and systematically checked,″ Conner said. ″Florida (has an) excellent detection program and vast network of approximately 13,000 traps.″