Florida’s citrus industry has faced some tough challenges over the years. The most recent was Hurricane Irma last September. The industry has also been threatened by citrus canker, greening, and development.
Now the state’s agriculture industry is facing another threat from a nemesis that has posed problems for Florida agriculture off and on for than 50 years, the Oriental fruit fly.
State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced Tuesday morning that three of the flies, known by their scientific name Bactrocera dorsalis, have been found in traps in south Miami-Dade County. The first fly was found in one of the more than 56,000 traps that are monitored statewide. The other flies were detected during expanded trapping activities.
The state’s citrus industry has faced numerous threats from the Oriental fruit fly since 1964. The most recent discovery was in 2015. Each time the fruit fly has been successfully eradicated and Putnam is confident the state will rid itself of the pest this time as well.
“We successfully eradicated this invasive pest, protecting Florida’s $120 billion agriculture industry, three years ago, and together with the U.S. Department of Agriculture we’ll implement an aggressive eradication program to do so again,” said Putnam.
This particular specie of fruit fly is considered to be among the most dangerous to citrus because it attacks more than 400 different fruits, vegetables and nuts, including avocado, fig, grapefruit, guava, loquat, mango, roseapple, papaya, peach, persimmon, Suriname cherry and white sapote. The fruit flies pose a threat to those crops by laying their eggs in host fruits and vegetables.
In an effort to eradicate the fruit fly, agriculture workers will treat a 1.5 square mile area around the traps where the flies were discovered. The treatment consists of attracting the male fruit flies to bait. The male flies feed on the bait which kills them.
The bait will be placed in the affected area through two life cycles of the flies, which is approximately 60 days. The area will be monitored and if no flies are detected in traps following a third life cycle, or another 30 days, the Oriental fruit fly will be declared eradicated.