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Mediterranean fruit flies targeted in Exposition Park sweep

Agriculture officials went door to door Friday to remove fruit from trees and spray organic pesticide in Exposition Park.
March 28, 2014 2:26:05 PM PDT
State agriculture officials went door to door Friday to remove fruit from trees and spray organic pesticide in a quarantined area of Exposition Park. The area is experiencing an outbreak of Mediterranean fruit flies, also known medflies.

Tree by tree, branch by branch, state and local officials worked to pick up every last fruit and vegetable in a 2-square-mile area around the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park.

"About a month ago we detected the Mediterranean fruit fly, and we're getting the help of the California Conservation Corps and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to go into the community and remove fruit from the homes that are affected," said L.A. County Agricultural Commission Inspector Max Regis.

The Mediterranean fruit fly is one of the worst agricultural pests and can affect 250 different fruits and vegetables.

"The female of the medfly will lay her eggs inside of the fruit, causing larvae to grow inside of it, and the fruit spoils and eventually falls to the ground," said Regis.

Officials say a homeowner with infested fruit from another country most likely caused the outbreak. If the infestation spreads it would be detrimental to farms and orchards in California, which is why officials are acting fast.

Once all the fruit and vegetable are picked, crews will have to spray the pesticide to kill the medfly.

The spraying concerns some residents, but officials say the spraying is localized and not harmful to humans or pets.

"In the past we used to do helicopter spraying with malathion, probably in the '80s and '90s," said Regis. "We no longer do that. The product that we are using is called spinosad and it's an organic pesticide that only affects insects, and it has no ill effects for humans."


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