Courtesy University of California, DavisMediterranean fruit flies are one of five tropical fruit fly species now entrenched in California, according to a recent study.At least five and as many nine invasive fruit flies now call California home, according to research published recently in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The study by three researchers could affect how government agencies manage agricultural pests in the future, according to a news release.
"We're very confident that our results indicate that at least five and possibly several more fruit-fly species are established in California," Richard Plant, University of California, Davis, plant sciences professor emeritus and co-author, said in the release.
Plant provided mathematical modeling and statistical analysis for the study.
UC Davis entomology professor James Carey also collaborated with lead author Nikos Papadopoulos, an entomologist at the University of Thessaly, Greece.
The research results also back up contentions made by Carey for some time.
"Collectively, the data suggest that, much like other invasive species, tropical fruit flies can be present in low numbers for decades," he said in the release. "This 'lag time,' which is such a hallmark of invasion biology, explains why California can be harboring very small, established populations of these pests with only periodic captures that reveal their presence."
Carey called for government agencies to immediately assess the economic impact of having each species established in the state and how the fruit flies will affect fruit and vegetable crops.
He also suggested that government agencies increase fruit-fly monitoring, establish fruit-fly-free zones to satisfy trading partners and establish crop insurance to protect farmers against fly-related damage.
Since the first tropical fruit fly was discovered in the state in 1954, California has battled them.
So far, more than 11,300 adults and larvae representing 17 different species have been detected in nearly all regions of the state.