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Officials: War Against Mediterranean Fruit Flies In Final Stage

September 12, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A $1 million effort to rid California’s San Fernando Valley of the destructive Mediterranean fruit fly apparently succeeded, officials say.

Officials plan to intensify trapping efforts for a month more, however, and hope to declare the pest eradicated if no more wild Medflies show up by the end of October, said William Edwards, chief deputy to the Los Angeles County agricultural commissioner.

A state quarantine barring anyone from removing home-grown produce from 62 square miles of the valley will remain in effect until eradication is declared, Dorthea Zadig, program manager of the state Department of Food and Agriculture, said Monday.

Six wild Medflies were discovered in the state’s traps in late July, but no new flies have been found since, Ms. Zadig said.

Bob Atkins, pest prevention division supervisor of the Los Angeles County Agriculture Commission, said officials are optimistic.

″I think we’ll be able to announce eradication by the end of October,″ he said.

The attack included a one-time pesticide treatment followed by the release of millions of sterile male Medflies and imposition of a quarantine on home- grown produce.

The Medfly, a severe threat to California’s multibillion-dollar agricultural industry, is considered one of the most destructive crop-damaging pests because it preys on more than 250 varieties of produce, reproduces rapidly and survives in different climates, officials said.

By the end of August, one complete generation of Medflies is thought to have come and gone since officials began releasing the sterile male flies, Ms. Zadig said. The sterile fly release will continue at a rate of 40 million a week for one more generation, through this month, she said.

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