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A Medfly Found Near Clearwater: Likely Not Part Of Bug Invasion

March 24, 1986

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) _ A Mediterranean fruit fly found last week is probably just a lone ″hitchhiker″ and not part of an invasion, agriculture officials said as efforts began to detect any other of the pests.

Workers began setting traps for the pest, and fruit and vegetables will be examined for 90 days, officials 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.

The unmated female medfly was found in a trap hung from a tree at a home south of Clearwater on Florida’s Gulf Coast, said Maeve McConnell, a spokeswoman with the state’s Division of Plant Industry.

Florida’s regular medfly detection program is being intensified in an 81- square mile area around the site, Ms. McConnell said.

If no more medflies are found during the 90-day period, the one medfly will be considered a hitchiker that arrived on produce from outside Florida, Ms. McConnell said.

But if more are found, the state would likely begin an eradication program that includes aerial spraying and the release of sterile male medflies, Ms. McConnell said.

Last year, a medfly infestation in the Miami area was overcome in about five months by such methods.

The medfly destroys fruits and vegetables by depositing its larvae inside them. Neither the medfly nor the larvae are harmful to humans.