Two new fruit flies being battled in L.A. area

Aug 10, 2009
Who could forget the famous news conference in 1981 when Gov. Jerry Brown appointee B.T. Collins drank a cup of the pesticide malathion to prove it was safe? That was at the height of a long-running Southern California controversy about nighttime malathion treatments to eradicate the Mediterranean fruit fly.

Now, some southland residents may hear the thwap, thwap, thwap of helicopters overhead once again - two new fruit flies have been found in eastern Los Angeles County, according to an article in the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

The story said a chemical rain of pesticide to eradicate Oriental fruit fly and white-striped fruit fly isn't out of the question. The pests pose a serious threat to California's $33.89 billion agriculture industry and, as UC Riverside entomology professor Joe Morse told reporter Kimberly Pierceall, "There's nothing like biting into a fruit and getting half a maggot."

The reporter also spoke to UC Berkeley agriculture professor David Zilberman.

"The key in invasive species is monitoring," he said. "You spray only when you must spray."

In the case of the medfly infestation of the 1980s and 90s, "no doubt about it, we needed to spray," Zilberman was quoted, comparing it to a dose of heavy medicine to reduce the severity of a disease early. Today, the medfly is largely under control, the story said.

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By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist