Local News

Bay Area Produce Quarantined Due to Fruit Flies

By: Aliya Koshalieva 

National/World Editor

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On Sept. 6, local and state agricultural officials enacted a quarantine for backyard-grown produce in the South Bay due to the discovery of eight different Oriental Fruit Flies. Bactrocera dorsalis, more known as the Oriental Fruit fly, is a pest that can destroy more than 400 different types of crops. According to the California Secretary of Agriculture, the California Department of Food and Agriculture announced a quarantine over a 112-square mile portion of Santa Clara County, prohibiting all shipments of fruits and vegetables from these areas until June 2024. “It would be disastrous for the oriental fruit fly to get established in Santa Clara County and California,” explained Joe Deviney, Santa Clara County’s Agricultural Commissioner. The affected cities include Santa Clara, Cupertino, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Campbell, and Milpitas. 

The quarantine prohibits residents from moving homegrown produce from their properties; instead, they are encouraged to dispose of homegrown fruits and vegetables by throwing out doubled-bagged produce in trash cans instead of green waste bins. Experts predict some plant nurseries, specifically those selling outdoor fruits and vegetables, street vendors, and farmers markets will economically suffer from the quarantine. These businesses must enter compliance agreements, ensuring that potentially infested plants do not leave the quarantined area. 

“The female [fly] deposits, usually, ten to 100 eggs per fruit. So when you go to pick your fruit off your tree, you open it up, it’ll have ten to 100 maggots. A single female fly can lay 1,500 eggs easily,” Deviney said, explaining that the Oriental Fruit Fly infestation doubled in California in recent years. To help prevent the spread, the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture will treat fly-infested areas with an organic pesticide inside an application device until March 2024. 

These pests threaten $19.3 billion worth of Californian crops. Deviney said, “Our exports will suffer. Farmers are trying to get away from the use of pesticides, but now they will have to spray even more to prevent their fruit from being infested. So it’s definitely going to affect everybody from the homeowner to the entire state’s economy.”

On Aug. 31, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office released information on two San Jose residents accused of smuggling a “dangerous fruit,” Langsat, into the country. The two men smuggled it by disguising it as dried coffee, tea, or fish. Officials seized and tested it, finding it heavily infested with fruit fly larvae. District Attorney Jeff Rosen commented, “This is serious and reckless behavior. If they spread, these flies can destroy crops. These infestations are the result of contraband fruit smuggled into California. We ask all Californians not to bring fruit or vegetables back from your travels.”

(Sources: ABC 7 News, CBS News, SF Gate)

Categories: Local News

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