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Medfly Spraying Goes On, Fly Found Near Burbank

January 4, 1990

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Four helicopters spraying pesticide to kill crop-destroying Medflies crisscrossed 46 square miles of suburban Downey and 14 neighboring cities today.

Agricultural officials also planned to spray the pesticide malathion on an additional 48 square miles tonight in Bell, Huntington Park, Commerce, Compton, East Los Angeles and neighboring communities.

Aerial spraying has covered an area of 300 square miles in Los Angeles and Orange counties during the state’s worst infestation of the crop-destroying Mediterranean fruit fly.

The Medfly threatens California’s multimillion-dollar farm industry because it lays its eggs in 250 different kinds of fruits and vegetables. After hatching, the larvae eat the inside of the fruit.

A Medfly was trapped Wednesday near Burbank, outside an area that was sprayed Monday, said Aurelio Posadas, a state Department of Food and Agriculture spokesman.

Officials plan to continue trapping there rather than order more spraying, Posadas said.

Scientists have been baffled by recent fly discoveries just outside areas already sprayed with malathion. The pattern led Medfly eradication experts to speculate in December that ″biological terrorists″ may be purposely spreading the fly.

A letter threatening that action was sent to Mayor Tom Bradley in November by a group calling itself ″The Breeders.″ The letter said the group was angry over the impact of pesticide spraying on humans. County agricultural officials have said the spraying poses no health threat to humans.

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