USDA establishes Mexican fruit fly regulated area in south Texas

06/25/2013 07:47:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Mexican fruit fly larvaeCourtesy Division of Plant Industry Archives; bugwood.orgMexican fruit fly larvae feed on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, rendering them unmarketable.In light of Mexican fruit fly larvae being found in south Texas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has set up a quarantine zone in Willacy County.

The area encompasses about 81 square miles around the finds, according to a North American Plant Protection Organization's pest alert.

On April 24, larvae were confirmed on a property where an adult female had previously been trapped.

During a delimiting survey, inspectors found two additional sites with larvae within 200 meters and on the same day.

The regulated area is strictly residential and contains no agricultural production areas.

USDA personnel, in cooperation with the Texas Department of Agriculture, will apply a spinosad foliar bait treatment nearby and will release sterile fruit flies over the regulated area.

The sterile release method has proven successful in eradicating both Mexican and Mediterranean fruit flies in the past.

Male flies are reared in laboratories and sterilized. Airplanes at night release millions of the flies over an infested area.

The theory is females will have difficulty finding fertile males and will instead mate with the sterile ones.

As a result, they won't lay any eggs.

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